Men’s basketball: NU narrowly defeated at UConn in seniors’ final game

By: Andrew Parente, News Staff

STORRS, Conn. – Advancing to its second straight post-season tournament, the men’s basketball team fell just short in their campaign this season, falling 59-57 against Connecticut in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament last night.

Northeastern held the lead with less than four minutes to play after junior guard Chaisson Allen converted on a jumper, but was held scoreless over the final 3:05 as UConn finished the game on a 9-2 run.

The loss ends Northeastern’s season at 20-13 overall, while Connecticut (18-15 overall) advances to the second round and will play March 18, 19, 20 or 22 against Virginia Tech or Quinnipiac.

“I thought it was a very competitive game on both ends,” head coach Bill Coen said. “Both teams competed extremely hard and it was a real war on the glass.”

Connecticut held a decisive advantage on the boards, out-rebounding NU by a 40-27 margin. However, the Huskies were able to hang tough all night with their New England rivals.

Northeastern came out strong from the start, opening the game on a 10-2 run, including a pair of 3-pointers from senior captain and forward Matt Janning.

But UConn answered back with a run of its own and took its first lead, 11-10, at the 12:17 mark of the first half.

Northeastern quickly grabbed the lead back and held on for most of the first half, but Connecticut closed the half on a 13-5 run and went into the halftime break leading 34-26.

NU was not ready to give up yet, however, as it came out strong again at the start of the second half.

As they have all season, the Huskies defense stepped up in the second half, forcing UConn turnovers and turning them into points. At the 11:09 mark, a floater from senior forward Manny Adako tied the game at 43 after the defense forced a shot clock violation.

On the next possession, Janning stole the ball and made a pass behind the back to senior center Nkem Ojougboh, who layed it in and put NU up 45-43.

Northeastern led from that point on until Stanley Robinson tied the game for UConn with 1:41 remaining, during the period the visitors were held scoreless.

However, NU had its chances in the final minute to win the game after Kemba Walker missed the front end of consecutive one-and-ones.

On the final play, NU tried to run a screen for Janning, but UConn was ready for it. Senior guard Baptiste Bataille was able to get off a clean look as time expired, but it would not fall, and the rebound attempt came after the final buzzer.

“They were well prepared for the last play,” Coen said. “We tried to get it to Matt, but obviously he can’t hide out there. I thought they did a good job of covering him, really throughout the entire second half.”

Janning led the Huskies in scoring with 17 points, while three others were also in double figures. Adako added 14 on 7-of-12 shooting; Ojougboh contributed 11 and also pulled down seven rebounds. Allen chipped in with 10. Connecticut guard Jerome Dyson led all scorers with 18.

All four seniors in the game, along with Brian McDonald, have now officially played their last game for the Huskies. Janning, Adako and Ojoughboh finish their careers with high-ranking individual accolades.

Janning, a three-year captain, finishes as the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,836 points. He is also the sixth Husky ever to garner three All-Conference honors.
Adako finishes as Northeastern’s 12th-leading scorer all-time with 1,209 points.

Ojoughboh, a force on defense, finishes with 133 career shot blocks, good for fourth all-time in NU history.

As a senior class, Adako, Bataille, Janning, McDonald and Ojoughboh finish with a four-year record of 66-62. The group also reached the postseason twice, collected a postseason win in the College Basketball Invitational last season and last night’s NIT appearance.

The group is also responsible for strong play in conference, going 44-28 in CAA games since arriving on campus in 2006. Twice this group reached the CAA tournament semifinals, in 2006 and 2010.

Despite the disappointing loss to UConn, Coen said he could not be more pleased with the effort and determination this class has given to the program throughout the years.

“This group believed in themselves, and they believed in this program,” Coen said. “They earned the respect of their teammates, their opponents and the entire student body. I am so pleased with their hard work and couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors.”