Men’s basketball: Tribe defeated despite second period efforts

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JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

In a road matchup against William and Mary’s Colonial Athletic Association rival Northeastern, a 13-0 Huskies run to end the first half subdued the Tribe in a 72-60 defeat. While the College (9-15, 5-7 CAA) fought valiantly in the second period, cutting an 18-point lead down to just six with 3:21 to play, senior guard Vasa Pusica and Northeastern (14-9, 8-3 CAA) held on for their third-straight win.

“[There were] a lot of really good things tonight, but just the inconsistency is difficult to watch,” head coach Tony Shaver said. “It really cost us this ball game. It’s a team that we have not been able to get consistent play out of.”

The Tribe got off to a slow start, exacerbated by an injury to junior forward Nathan Knight. Down 11-5 with 15:54 left in the half, Knight turned his ankle and was forced to leave the game. He would return a little over five minutes later, but not before Northeastern put together a 6-0 run to take advantage of his absence. Minutes later, back-to-back three-pointers by guard Jordan Roland extended the Huskies lead to 26-11 at the 9:17 mark.

However, the tide began to turn with a dunk by junior guard Justin Pierce. The slam spurred a 13-2 Tribe spurt, as an old-fashioned three-point play by Knight put the College within four. With the momentum completely on the Tribe’s side, it was then that Northeastern completed their game-changing run. Roland put the exclamation point on the half by nailing a jumper as the buzzer sounded to push the Huskies’ halftime edge to 41-24.

“If we want to beat the best teams in this league, it’s got to be there for forty minutes,” Shaver said. “Again, I’ll go back to the word consistency.”

In the second half, the Tribe found another level defensively. They held the Huskies to 31 percent shooting over the course of the period, cutting the lead to just nine with 14:03 to go. Northeastern responded, as a Pusica layup pushed the advantage back to 52-38. The all-conference guard finished the day with 19 points, seven assists and seven boards.

Knight, who tallied 18 points, 14 rebounds and six dimes, answered for the Tribe, knocking down two foul shots to get within eight with just over eight minutes in the game. Moments later, Pierce scored five in a row for the Tribe, making it 63-57 with 3:21 left. Unfortunately for the Tribe, the Huskies were perfect from the line for the rest of the game. A layup from forward Thomas Murphy effectively put the game away with a little more than a minute to go.

After the contest with the preseason CAA favorite, the Tribe travels to the Island to take on current CAA leader Hofstra. The game will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re going to go from one tough place to play to a tougher place to play,” Shaver said. “Best team in the league. I think these are the two top teams in the league right now. We have got to find an answer for our play, we have got to clean our play up, and be really ready to compete and execute at a high level for forty minutes.”