Men’s basketball: NIT or CBI bid likely awaits

The men’s basketball team lost to William & Mary Sunday in the CAA semifinals.

By Andrew Parente, News Staff

RICHMOND, Va. – For anybody that followed the men’s basketball team this year, it should come as no surprise at how competitive its games at the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament were.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, they were unable to ride the momentum from a classic double-overtime win in the quarterfinals Saturday and fell to William & Mary in the semifinals Sunday, 47-45.

Like Sunday’s loss to the Tribe, the win over Hofstra on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum was decided by just a single possession.

Senior guard Matt Janning had a season-high 26 points including several important three-pointers during the extra frame to help the Huskies advance to their first semi-final game at the tournament under head coach Bill Coen.

“Tonight really kind of exemplified March Madness,” Coen said. “Both teams competed extremely hard and it appeared that neither one of us could get a clear look at the basketball all night long. There was terrific defense by both teams.”
In the second overtime, Janning made perhaps his biggest shot of the season as he drilled a highly-contested trey with 45 seconds left and the teams tied at 67 to put NU on top for good.

Junior guard Chaisson Allen, who added 10 points, went 4-of-6 from the free-throw line to ice the game.
Senior forward Manny Adako was also in double figures with 13 points.

While the upperclassmen contributed in the points column, freshmen Alwayne Bibgy and Kauri Black also played big minutes for the Huskies, especially on the defensive end.

However, with the Huskies down two in final seconds of regulation, it was Black who tied the game with a layup off a pass from Janning with 4.4 seconds left.

The freshmen also had the daunting task of trying to defend the CAA-player of the year in Charles Jenkins.

“They were terrific tonight, I thought, in this environment,” Coen said. “They both drew a tough assignment in having to defend Charles Jenkins and keep him out of the lane. This is a tremendous experience for them and will serve them very well going forward and into next year.”

Sunday’s semi-final against the Tribe got off to a slow start for the Huskies, as they fell behind 31-15 late in the first half.
With the help of five three-point baskets in the frame, William & Mary went into the half leading 31-17.

But the Huskies came out on fire in the second half.

The game resembled the last time the teams met in the regular season in which the Tribe opened up a big lead only to see the Huskies work their way back before eventually falling on a late bucket.

Northeastern went on a 15-5 run during the first 10 minutes of the half and also held the Tribe scoreless until the 13:18 mark.

After that, the Huskies tied the game up at 39 with 5:37 left when senior guard Baptiste Bataille converted on a pair of free throws.

A pair of Janning free throws gave the Huskies their first lead since the game’s first points with 3:02 remaining. Adako hit a jumper with 1:01 left, putting NU ahead 45-44, but that was the last score for the Huskies in the game.

Tribe guard David Schneider, who had been held scoreless all game, nailed a trey with 37 seconds left to bring the game to its final margin.

On the game-tying attempts, the Huskies had seven opportunities to find the basket, but each shot did not find its way home.

“I felt our defense in the second half was about as good as we could play against a talented offensive team,” Coen said.

“I thought when we took the lead we would be able to hold on but as William & Mary have done all year, they make big plays at the end of games.”

The realization that the quest for the championship was over was a tough one to handle, however Coen said he is extremely proud of his team

“Without question, we just left a very emotional locker room,” Coen said. “The kids had high expectations of themselves and really wanted to finish the year playing on Monday night. I know what the scoreboard says and we didn’t come away with the win, but nobody can tell me that these kids aren’t winners.”

Despite the loss, the Huskies have plenty to be happy about this season.

At the annual CAA banquet held before the tournament, it was announced that Allen and Janning had both received first-team all-CAA honors.

Janning also picked up all-CAA second team academic honors, while Bataille was named to the first team. Sophomore forward Ben Felix and senior guard Brian McDonald were also given honorable mention in the academic category.
The team also achieved a 20-win season for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Now, the Huskies await to see which postseason tournament they will be invited too.

Last year, Northeastern participated in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and advanced to the second round after defeating Wyoming.

The Huskies hope this year’s success will earn them an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), which is run by the NCAA, and selects the next best 32 teams after the main tournament selects the first 65.