By Zolan Kanno-Youngs, News Correspondent
There are many similarities between seniors Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith. The two are both co-captains, in the same grade, roommates, and make up the starting backcourt of the Northeastern men’s basketball team.
They have also both reached the 1,000-point milestone after Lee’s 17-point performance in the Huskies 59-52 win over Drexel University Feb. 2.
“It’s not everyday you get to sit flanked by two thousand-point scorers and really quality young men, so I couldn’t be prouder of both these young guys,” head coach Bill Coen said as he sat between the co-captains. “We’ve grown together, we’ve competed together and it’s a happy night for Jon, and I know Joel got his a little earlier but it’s a tribute to their character and hard work.”
The lone seniors on the team combined for over half of the Huskies’ (14-8) points in their win over Drexel (9-13), and the final minutes of the game showed why they’re the leaders of Northeastern.
The game was tied 24-24 at the half, and both teams could not open a lead bigger than four points for the first 12 minutes of the second.
That’s when Smith had enough. The senior hit a long jumper with his foot on the line to extend the Huskies lead to 43-37. After the Dragons scored 5 straight points, Smith continued to produce, getting to the line and converting on both free throws with 5:18 left in the game.
With less than a minute left, Lee converted on a driving layup, putting him in the Northeastern basketball history books.
“It’s tremendous, man, to join my best friend, co-captain, it just feels great,” Lee said. “It’s just another personal goal, another mark. I just got to set a new one and that’s getting farther on the journey in reaching the postseason.”
Lee must have not been satisfied with the milestone. Off of a missed lay-up by Daryl McCoy, Lee pushed it up the floor and attempted a strong right-handed dunk. While the shot was missed, Lee drew a flagrant foul on sophomore guard Damion Lee, turning all momentum for the remaining 2:27 to the Huskies.
“The light came on,” Lee said. “I just got real excited, I seen him coming [on] his high horse, trying to chase me down but I just went up strong because that’s the only way you’ll get a call in this game.”
Lee was the main reason the Huskies stayed in the game in the first half. After Northeastern started off on a 10-0 run, Drexel outscored the Huskies 24-14. The surge was led by junior center Dartaye Ruffin.
However, Lee was able to counteract Ruffin with 11 first half points against a physical Drexel defense.
“[Bruiser Flint] has told me after numerous years I’m a tough kid, I’m tough and everything, so I knew they were going to have it out for me, have it out for the team in general and try to disrupt everything,” Lee said. “You got to accept the challenge and hit them before they hit you first.”
Flint, Drexel’s head coach, had nothing but positive things to say about the Huskies after the game.
“They play good D, they play well together, I think of all the teams in the league they play really well together and they pass the ball,” Flint said.
The leadership of the two seniors has guided them throughout the season. It has led them to first place in the CAA and, on Saturday night, it led them to beat the preseason No. 1 ranked team.
“Drexel is a real tough ball club to play always and for Jon, it made me happy to see [him] reach 1,000 and get in the 1,000-point club,” Smith said. “He’s my co-captain and everything so it’s a real blessing for me to be on the court with him to reach this goal.”