By Matthew MacCormack, news staff
As the first half of Northeastern University’s men’s basketball matchup with Harvard University came to a close, the roar of the crowd grew. The Huskies led 46-42, but the fans were cheering for something else: the raising of Northeastern’s 2015 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship banner, the first of its kind hanging from the rafters in Matthews Arena.
“It’s a life moment that you really want to treasure,” Head Coach Bill Coen said before the game. “Enjoy it for a quick moment, but we’re here on a business trip.”
Northeastern (NU) did more than just take care of business this week. The Huskies (6-1) beat the No. 15 University of Miami Hurricanes in a 78-77 nail-biter on Friday, the program’s first win over an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 poll in 29 years. Then, the Huskies ended a two-game losing streak against Harvard with an 80-71 victory over the Crimson on Wednesday night. Redshirt senior Quincy Ford led the way in each outing, scoring 24 points and the game-winning jumper against the Hurricanes. He chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Crimson.
Miami had won its first five games entering the matchup with Northeastern, but Ford’s heroics punctuated the Hurricanes’ streak. With NU down, 77-76, Ford caught the ball off an inbounds play and drilled an elbow jumper over his defender as time expired. The game-winner capped off Ford’s stellar night, in which the forward tallied six rebounds, four steals, and hit five of 10 from three.
“Early in the game, I had two quick offensive fouls – pushoffs – so when [the defender] stopped my momentum, I sort of stopped, and I shot it,” Ford told reporters. “I was blessed that it went in.”
NU followed the mid-major upset formula: hit threes and limit offensive rebounds. The Huskies led for the entire first half and held a 35-30 advantage at the break. Miami’s backcourt duo of Davon Reed and Sheldon McClellan took over in the second half and allowed the Hurricanes to grab a late lead, but a four-point play from Husky freshman forward Jeremy Miller cut the deficit to 70-68 with three minutes remaining. After the teams traded a few baskets, Ford had the last word.
“We kind of dug in, dug a little deeper, and fortunately we had some success,” Coen told reporters. “Great players make plays, and it’s a simple play, but Quincy stepped up and made a big-time shot when we needed him to.”
After a four-game road trip, the Huskies returned home on Wednesday for the season’s first game at Matthews. Northeastern struggled early against the Crimson but ended the first half on a 9-0 run and never trailed again.
Ford was dominant, shooting six of 13 from the field in addition to nabbing his second double-double of the season.
“We started off kind of slow,” Ford said. “The second half was a different story – we sort of locked in to what coach was telling us as far as the game plan.”
The Crimson jumped out to a 36-27 advantage thanks to some dominant inside play from junior center Zena Edosomwan (18 points, seven rebounds) and hot shooting from senior guard Patrick Steeves (11 points). Edosomwan was sent to the bench with two fouls halfway through the frame, and the Huskies took control. Sophomore guard Devon Begley helped key the NU run, tallying six of his 10 points and recording a steal in the final four minutes of the first half.
“Our guys were just so happy to get home and play a true home game,” Coen said. “You had some of those plays where we were just playing too quick. [Then] we went to a little bit of pressure, we got some turnovers, we got out in transition and we got back control of the game at that point in time and really settled down.”
A trip to Michigan is next for the Huskies. The team will take on the University of Detroit-Mercy on Saturday and University of Western Michigan on Monday. Although the first part of the season has been a success, Ford stressed that the Huskies still have much to accomplish.
“We’re not satisfied,” he said. “We’re not exactly where we want to be right now. Coach always says, you want to be playing your best basketball in March, and we’re not even close right now.”
Photo by Brian Bae