Huskies lose 62-56 to Syracuse in defensive battle

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Sarah Olender

Freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort was a bright spot off the bench in the Huskies’ loss to Syracuse

Eamonn Ryan, deputy sports editor

A second half full of turnovers cost the men’s basketball team (1-2, 0-0 CAA) the game against Syracuse (5-1, 1-0 ACC) that struggled to score the basketball Wednesday afternoon in the Carrier Dome. The Orange were led by sophomores Quincy Guerrier, who finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Joseph Girard III, who had 21 points and a game-high six steals. 

The first half finished with Northeastern down by one point thanks to sweet shooting from freshmen forwards Coleman Stucke and Jahmyl Telfort, who led the Huskies with 16 points on the day. As a team, they made seven three-pointers in the first half and the alarm bells were sounding for a possible upset, but they could not overcome 21 turnovers and the loss of sophomore guard Tyson Walker, who exited the game injured with 18:32 to go.

“We mishandled the ball a little bit too much,” head coach Bill Coen said. “That defense is tough to crack, and they’re really good at it.” 

Syracuse struggled to score early on, especially from two of their leading scorers, sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim and junior forward Alan Griffin, who combined for just two points. They were helped, however, by senior forward Marek Dolezaj, who contributed 14 in the effort. 

“We tried to make life difficult for [Boeheim and Griffin],” Coen said. “We got some pretty good size on the wing, guys that can present some challenges and get up in shot pockets and make guys a little bit uncomfortable. What I’m proud of, for a young group, they really absorb a scouting report.”

The Huskies forced 10 turnovers themselves and held Syracuse to 31.7 percent shooting, but they lacked the offensive output in the second half to finish the job at the other end. They had to finish the game without Walker, who was able to attack the zone in the first half and find open shooters. In the second half, that lack of attacking showed, as the Huskies were unable to get to the foul line or find open looks because of it.

“We were without Tyson [Walker] the second half, and he’s our number one creator and a guy who gives other guys some confidence, so we had to shift some roles a little bit,” Coen said. “We lost our best guy at drawing fouls and you’re going against an elite program that doesn’t foul. That’s why they’re so good, they don’t beat themselves.” 

Coen is unsure whether Walker, last week’s CAA Player of the Week, will be available for Sunday’s game against Old Dominion, but if he cannot make it back, the offense will surely miss his ability to drive to the hoop and open up the game. 

Despite Walker’s absence, Telfort came off the bench to knock down three triples and was the only player to finish in double figures for the Huskies. He has now finished with 10+ points in each game he has played so far this season, showing why he was last week’s CAA Rookie of the Week. 

“[Telfort’s] been playing terrific in practice from day one,” Coen said. “He’s in the gym all the time. He’s a tireless worker…and it’s contagious. When you’re blessed with the kind of talent he has, and you marry that with an incredible work ethic, you can see him starting to evolve each and every day.”

Other notable players for the Huskies include redshirt junior forward Jason Strong, who scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds. Redshirt junior guard Shaquille Walters also helped out on the boards, pulling in eight rebounds before fouling out, and redshirt junior forward Greg Eboigbodin brought in 10 boards. 

Overall, it was a hard-fought effort for the Huskies today, who certainly showed they have the mental toughness and defensive ability to stick with a high-powered offensive team. Although they couldn’t finish the job in the closing minutes, they look ready for CAA play that will come in the new year. Before then they will travel to Old Dominion Dec. 20 for their penultimate non-conference matchup.

“[I’m] proud of the effort,” Coen said. “We’re anxious to get back to Boston and get back to work.”