Jahmyl Telfort, men’s basketball sink James Madison with seventh straight win


Harriet Rovniak

The Huskies gain their seventh straight win this season against James Madison University.

Eamonn Ryan, deputy sports editor

Freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort finished with a career-high 23 points as the Northeastern Huskies (8-5, 7-0 CAA) pulled away from the James Madison University Dukes (6-5, 1-1 CAA) to win 72-63 Saturday afternoon at the Cabot Center in Boston.

The Huskies were up by just six at the half, but the combination of Telfort, redshirt junior guard Shaquille Walters and the team defense put the Dukes away. Walters finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Huskies take control of the game on both ends of the floor. 

“One thing that’s been consistent for most of the year — and particularly in conference play — has been our defense,” Coen said. “We’re defending the three at a good rate, we’re giving ourselves a chance in each and every game when you defend like that. If you sit down and guard and rebound, you can weather some cold shooting nights and cold shooting periods.”

Sophomore guard Tyson Walker started the game off with eight quick points, but James Madison answered, and with 11:39 to play in the first half the Huskies had just a 19-17 lead. That soon disappeared, however, as the Dukes’ senior guard Matt Lewis led them on a quick 9-2 run highlighted by solid defense that led to easy baskets at the rim.

By the end of the half, the Huskies came back and led 37-31 thanks to Walker and redshirt sophomore forward Chris Doherty who scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half. With four offensive rebounds, he provided his team second-chance opportunities and was able to overcome the weaker inside presence of JMU.

“[Chris’s performance] goes beyond the first half,” Coen said. “If you look at the College of Charleston series, he had such a tremendous impact. In game one he did a monster job on the backboards.” 

Doherty finished the game with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, but exited the game in the second half after an apparent injury.

“Chris was working his way back from injury and he looked like he was hitting full stride, he just tweaked his ankle a little bit,” Coen said. “I haven’t had the chance to talk to the medical people [and] see what his availability is for tomorrow, but if you know Chris you know he’s an incredibly tough kid, if there’s any way he can play, he’s going to do that.”

NU got out to a hot start in the second half and limited James Madison’s offense. With 7:48 remaining, a barrage of three pointers from Walters and Telfort helped the Huskies to a 62-48 lead.

Telfort took over the game in the second half, scoring all of his 23 points after the break. He attacked the zone that the Dukes employed and dominated the defenders in his way, finishing in the paint for easy baskets. 

“[Telfort] gave us a lift when we really needed it,” Coen said. “He scored in a variety of ways: transition threes to tough drives to the basket to offensive rebound putbacks to mid range shots. He got on a roll…once he hit his first shot in the second half he was off to the races and that’s when we gained some separation.”

Walters also factored prominently on the offensive and defensive end in the second half, scoring 10 points but also providing a key block. Both him and Telfort scored the first 31 points of the second half for NU and contributed virtually all of the offense.

With 2:30 remaining, Walters had the ball on a fast break and threw it up to Telfort who slammed it home, capping off an impressive all-around effort by Walters and a career-high day for Telfort. The alley-oop finish was the shining star of the Huskies’ win, highlighting their ability to get out in transition and finish at the hoop.

James Madison made an 11-0 run after the alley-oop, but it was too little, too late for the Dukes as they walked out of the Cabot Center with their first CAA loss of the season. Both Lewis and junior guard Jalen Hodge had 14 points for the JMU, but it was not enough.

Lewis was the United States Basketball Writers’ Association player of the week after their win over Towson last week, but he could not lead his team to victory today.

“I don’t think we did anything special [to defend Lewis],” Coen said. “He got off to a pretty quick start, but Shaq and the supporting guys did a really nice job on him in terms of limiting the quality of his looks.”

The Huskies have now won seven straight games and are still undefeated in conference play. Coen is also one win away from tying former head coach Jim Calhoun in wins as a head coach, but he is still not interested in accepting too much praise for his efforts.“I wouldn’t dare compare myself to coach Calhoun…it takes a village to have a successful program and I feel extremely grateful to serve Northeastern for this period,” Coen said.

The Huskies will come right back and take on James Madison again tomorrow at noon at the Cabot Center in Boston.