Men’s basketball’s win streak ends in OT at Charleston


Muhammad Elarbi

Senior guard Vasa Pusica controls the ball near half-court in prior game against Elon.

Seamus McAvoy, news staff

Northeastern welcomed the return of senior guard Vasa Pusica to the lineup, but another star performance from the Serbian standout wasn’t enough as the Huskies fell in overtime to the College of Charleston, 88-79 on Saturday.

Northeastern (16-10, 10-4 CAA) found itself in a hole early on after Charleston connected on its first six shot attempts to take 16-8 lead. Guard Grant Riller and forward Jarrell Brantley have caused conference opponents problems all season, and their first-half performance certainly bolstered their reputation as a formidable duo — they amassed nine and 11 points respectively on a collective 5-13 shooting, leading the way at the end of the first period.

Despite early hangups, the Huskies managed to claw their way back into the game. A 3-pointer from junior guard Donnell Gresham gave them a 33-32 advantage with 2:31 remaining in the half for Northeastern’s first lead since the opening possession, and Pusica got a 3 to go with six seconds remaining in the half to give the Huskies a 38-36 lead at the break.

A layup from junior guard Bolden Brace capped off a 7-0 run to open the second half, and the Huskies looked destined to push the lead to double digits before Charleston’s one-two punch of Riller and Brantley responded. Riller scored the next eight points for the Cougars followed by back-to-back buckets for Brantley, and the two were largely responsible for a 13-0 run that gave Charleston a 55-52 lead with 7:24 remaining.

Gresham connected on another three to tie the game at 55 with 6:30 left, but Riller got a mid-range jumper to go the following possession and Northeastern would trail over the next six minutes. Junior guard Jordan Roland broke out for a fastbreak layup with just 29 seconds remaining in the game, tying the game at 69, and the Huskies fended off Charleston on the final possession to force a second overtime in the last three games.

Unfortunately for Northeastern, this overtime period didn’t go as well as last week’s effort against Elon in which they scored 12 unanswered points. Riller and Brantley combined for 14 of Charleston’s 19 in overtime and the Huskies simply couldn’t keep up.

Pusica led the way for Northeastern once again, leading the team with 25 points on an efficient 9-15, including 5-10 from behind the arc. Brace added 13 points and 11 rebounds, giving him his third double-double in five games. The Huskies shot an impressive 50.9 percent from the field — the major discrepancy came at the free throw line, as Charleston outshot the Huskies 22-9 from the charity stripe.

Northeastern falls to 16-10 (10-4 CAA) with the loss, but they maintain a half-game lead over Charleston (21-7, 10-5 CAA) for second place in the conference. The Huskies return to Matthews Arena for their final homestand of the regular season to take on James Madison (12-15, 5-9 CAA) this Thursday.