Men’s basketball roll on in conference play, pick up fourth straight win


Riley Robinson

Sophomore guard Myles Franklin prepares to shoot a free throw against UNCW.

Seamus McAvoy, news staff

Northeastern used a massive second-half effort to win on its home court for the second game in a row, this time over UNC Wilmington by a score of 88-71.

After an uncharacteristic night from behind the arc against Charleston, the Huskies (11-8, 5-2 CAA) were due for a progression toward the mean against the Seahawks (7-13, 3-4 CAA) as they connected on four of their first five 3-point attempts. The Huskies stayed hot from deep all half and finished the period with an 8-19 clip from deep, 42 percent.

The presence of a healthy Shawn Occeus continued to give conference foes trouble, as the junior guard added a trio of 3-pointers on just four attempts in the first half.

Despite a strong shooting half for the Huskies and only two turnovers, some leaky defense prevented them from establishing a big lead after the first 20 minutes. UNCW was able to connect on 53 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half, allowing the Seahawks to hang around despite never leading by more than two points.

A 3-pointer from Occeus gave Northeastern a 24-22 edge with 7:59 remaining in the opening period, and UNCW didn’t lead for the remainder of the afternoon. The two teams entered the break with Northeastern holding a 40-38 advantage.

After some more back-and-forth action, the Huskies broke off a 17-4 run with about 12 minutes remaining in the game to secure a 74-57 advantage that they’d ride out to the end. Northeastern’s defense tightened up in the second as they allowed UNCW to shoot a 42 percent mark in the half. The Huskies led by as many as 22 late in the game, and secured a commanding victory.

That 17-4 stretch, much like Northeastern’s effort overall, was led by the talented and versatile triumvirate of Occeus, senior guard Vasa Pusica, and junior guard Jordan Roland. Roland, who made the most of his opportunities while Pusica and Occeus were sidelined with injuries earlier this season, has consistently been a strong contributor off the bench for head coach Bill Coen. He finished the night with 17 points on 5-12 shooting, and Pusica continued to be prolific, adding 21 points on an efficient 8-12 shooting, his second consecutive game of 20 points or more.

Northeastern moved into second place in the conference, two games behind Hofstra, as they improve their overall record to 11-8 (5-2 CAA). UNCW falls to 7-13 (3-4 CAA) with the loss. The Huskies travel to Towson (6-14, 2-5 CAA) this Thursday as conference play continues.