Men’s basketball advances to CAA semifinals with historic win over William & Mary


Jordan Baron

Tyson Walker led the Northeastern Huskies to a 63-47 win over William & Mary Sunday night

Eamonn Ryan, deputy sports editor

After the first half, the No. 2 seed Northeastern men’s basketball team looked like they were in for a dogfight in their quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 seed William & Mary.

Instead, the Huskies (10-8, 8-2 CAA) blew the doors off the Tribe (7-10, 4-6 CAA) in the second half to win 63-47. The Tribe took advantage of the shorthanded NU squad and got out to a 28-25 lead at the break, but once sophomore guard Tyson Walker and NU got going from deep, it was all over for William & Mary. 

“I thought we came out a little rusty, our timing wasn’t good; I think we had 10 turnovers in the first half,” said NU head coach Bill Coen. “All year long, what kept us in games has been our defense, and that was consistent tonight … Luckily we started to make some shots and move the ball a little bit better in the second half.”

The win was Coen’s 251st all-time as head coach of the Northeastern program, cementing his name in the Husky history books as the all-time leader in wins at the school. He replaced former coach Jim Calhoun as the record-holder.

“[The 251st win] meant more to me that we’re moving on and we’re still playing in the best month of the year if you’re a college basketball fan,” Coen said. “The most important thing is the student-athletes that have come through this program and really put their stamp on it. Coaches get too much credit than the players — I haven’t scored a basket or grabbed a rebound in a long time.”

While Coen is ever-humble and is more excited about Monday night’s game than winning this one, his players felt that getting the win to boost him over that historical hump was important.

“[The record] was one of the main reasons we all wanted to play; just play one game so we could get him the record,” Walker said. “That’s what really motivated us to play this game.”

Walker led all scorers with 19 points and finished with five steals, showing why he earned first team all-CAA honors and the CAA defensive player of the year award. Redshirt junior forward Chris Doherty pitched in and dominated the glass with a game-high 18 rebounds to go along with his nine points. 

Both teams started off somewhat cold, with the Huskies shooting 2-for-8 in the first five minutes and the Tribe shooting 3-for-11. With 14:40 to play, William & Mary held a 7-4 lead thanks to their defensive efforts and the Huskies’ problems scoring the ball. 

With 11:20 to go, Tribe senior guard Luke Loewe was blocked by NU freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort and gave the Huskies a chance to regroup. In an unorthodox move by Coen, he inserted redshirt freshman Connor Braun into the game, which was his official collegiate debut after being sidelined with an ankle injury all season long. With Braun in the game, the Huskies were able to crash the offensive glass and a putback effort by Braun gave him his first points of his college career.

Even with the fresh body, the Huskies still had trouble on offense, as the Tribe forced seven turnovers within the first 13 minutes and held them to just 35.3% shooting from the field. Luckily, some strong defense from NU kept the deficit to single digits, 19-12.

With just over three minutes to play in the half, Walker curled around a screen and knocked down a three, and suddenly the Huskies had come back to tie the game at 23-23. With the clock winding down, Loewe made a layup and junior forward Quinn Blair knocked down a three to regain a 28-25 Tribe lead and take it into the half. Blair led all scorers with 10 points at the half and Loewe had six assists in the first half.

The main problem for NU in the first stanza was their turnover-to-assist ratio. The Huskies had 10 turnovers but just four assists on their 11 buckets. Without their regular rotation, NU seemed out of rhythm to start the game, which is understandable after COVID-19 protocols within the program cancelled their final series with UNC Wilmington. Walker led the Huskies with seven points and redshirt sophomore forward Chris Doherty had six points in the first.

“[In the] first half we struggled because we hadn’t played in three weeks,” Walker said. “We all had to quarantine, so we didn’t have that much time to practice.”

Whatever rhythm issues plagued the Huskies in the first half, they found the cure in the second.

NU started the second half hot, scoring the first two buckets on layups from Doherty and freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort, taking a 29-28 lead in the first minute of the second half. His play spurred the Huskies onto a 9-2 run and they went into the first media timeout up 36-30.

It was then freshman forward Coleman Stucke’s turn to have his own little run, scoring eight straight points to extend the Husky lead to 44-32 with 13 minutes to play. He knocked down two tough triples and was an integral part of the 19-4 run that turned the once-close affair on its head.

With under ten minutes to play in the game, it was Tyson Walker time. He started off a fantastic sequence by taking a charge, then knocked down a three off an assist from sophomore guard Vito Cubrilo. On the next possession, the CAA defensive player of the year stole a Tribe pass and went coast-to-coast to lay it in and drew a foul, putting his team on his back and giving them a 19-point advantage.

After Walker lit the flame, the Huskies coasted home and comfortably traded baskets with the Tribe over the final seven minutes to pull out a 16-point win.

The Huskies were without two key players, redshirt juniors guard Shaquille Walters and forward Jason Strong. The two had started almost every game for NU this season, but the team was able to survive and advance without the two most experienced players on the roster. 

“It was a next-man-up mentality; guys stepped in in huge roles, we were able to get the job done with a total team effort,” Coen said. 

Coen also said that Walters will be out for the tournament, but Strong could make an appearance as he recovers from an unspecified injury. While Strong was on the sidelines, Walters was not in the building.

On top of Walker’s scoring efforts, Stucke finished with 13 points and made three three-pointers in the process, while Telfort also had 13. The biggest difference between the two teams tonight, however, was the rebounding difference. Thanks to Doherty’s 18 rebounds — eight of which were offensive — the Huskies grabbed 10 more boards than the Tribe. 

“We talked about [Doherty] coming into the game … he’s a terrific offensive rebounder and obviously we saw that tonight,” said William & Mary head coach Dane Fischer. “He certainly had a huge impact on the game.”

Doherty missed multiple games this season due to injury, but his presence was felt tonight. He also registered two blocks and earned the praise of his teammates.

“That’s what Chris does, he’s a dog,” Walker said. “He gets all of his stuff on his own; he goes and gets it. That’s big for us.”

The Huskies will be back tomorrow night after sending William & Mary home. With No. 1 seed James Madison’s loss against No. 8 seed Elon, NU is now the highest seed in the tournament. They’ll draw the winner of No. 3 seed Charleston and No. 6 seed Drexel Monday night at 9:30 p.m.