The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

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Men’s Basketball: History repeats itself in CAA tournament as another disappointing season comes to a close

The+Huskies+group+together+during+their+game+against+Hampton+Feb.+24.+Northeastern+finished+the+season+with+a+12-20+overall+record.
Molly McAlevey
The Huskies group together during their game against Hampton Feb. 24. Northeastern finished the season with a 12-20 overall record.

In the 2022-23 season, the Northeastern men’s basketball team stumbled to a 10-20 overall record and a 6-12 conference finish, ranking 11th out of the 14 teams in the CAA. The Huskies were shut down in the second round of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship by the Delaware Blue Hens 77-74, putting an end to a subpar season.

NU optimistically entered the 2023-24 season looking to rewrite the narrative — and it seemed possible. The CAA preseason poll placed the Huskies at No. 7 in the conference with 84 votes, jumping four spots from the final 2022-23 standings last season.

The addition of graduate student guard Luka Sakota also brought new energy to the roster. The 6-foot-6-inch transfer from Harvard University, where he served as team captain, entered the program this season looking to make a splash. In his junior year with the Crimson, Sakota averaged 11.3 points a game, the second-best on the team. However, his performance declined during his senior year, in which he only averaged 7.1. 

Over 2,000 fans packed Matthews Arena Nov. 6 for the team’s opening game against the Boston University Terriers — the greatest showing at home for the team since 2015. The Huskies went on to win the matchup 67-58, redeeming themselves after losing the 2022-23 season opener to BU.

Unfortunately, NU lost momentum quickly, and history repeated itself. 

Just like last season, the Huskies fell in the second round of the CAA Championship March 9, as Stony Brook University secured a 75-65 win. Falling short of their goal of making a deeper run in the tournament, NU finished the season with little advancement from the previous year.

A 12-20 overall record and 7-11 in conference play left the Huskies 10th in the CAA, just one notch up from 2022-23.

A lack of offensive success burdened NU throughout the season. Ranked twelfth in the CAA for points per game, the Huskies struggled to find an offensive edge in close matchups. Many of the team’s games came down to the wire, as it couldn’t convert into victories as the clock ran out. 

The Huskies lost eight games by one or two possessions during the season. On Dec. 6, they suffered a 73-71 loss to the Vermont Catamounts, followed by another 2-point defeat Dec. 16 against the Virginia Cavaliers — a team that went on to enter March Madness as a ten-seed. Two months later, NU was shut down in a 77-73 loss against the College of Charleston, the No. 1 team in the CAA. 

These tight games could’ve flipped the script on Northeastern’s sub-.500 season had players come in clutch to secure victories. NU’s point margin sat at -2.9 for the season, the third lowest in the CAA.

Chris Doherty jumps for a basket against Hampton Feb. 24. Doherty led the Huskies in average points (13.6), rebounds (6.7) and blocks (0.8) per game. (Molly McAlevey)

The transfer of senior guard Jahmyl Telfort to Butler University left a gap in NU’s roster, as he was last season’s leader in points with an average 16.4 per game and 491 total. He went on to rank second in scoring for the Bulldogs this season.

Despite NU’s lackluster finish, multiple players shined throughout the season.

Graduate forward Chris Doherty led the team in points, averaging 13.6 per game on 52.2% shooting from the field and 73.7% from the free throw line. This was a noticeable jump from his average 8.9 points per game in the previous season. 

He also recorded a career-high 27 points Jan. 27 against William & Mary.

Doherty was the Husky’s top rebounder (6.7) for a third straight season, the seventh Husky since 1960 to achieve such a milestone. His versatility on the court also notched him as the team leader in blocks with 0.8 per game.

Other returning players also tallied new career-highs.

Sophomore guards Harold Woods, Rashad King and sophomore forward Jared Turner each broke their personal records in single game scoring with 25, 22 and 19 points respectively.

Sakota delivered as the second-top scorer, with an average 10.3 ppg, but his 37.3% shooting from the field left something to be desired. He also missed six games due to injury — a brutal hit for a team relying on his abilities coming into the season.

Woods averaged 10.1 points a game this season — third-highest behind Doherty and Sakota — making him a promising player for NU going forward.

The 2023-24 season did not offer the success that NU hoped. With the departures of graduates Doherty and Sakota, the Huskies will have more holes to fill in their rotation going into next season. The team will rely on veteran players to step up offensively and pull their weight.

A new level of depth will be needed in order for the Huskies to find success in the program’s upcoming years. NU men’s basketball will return in November.

About the Contributor
Sofia Garrett, Deputy Sports Editor
Sofia Garrett is a second-year journalism and media and screen studies major at Northeastern University. She previously edited her own documentary in London and managed the social media accounts for her town’s local bakery, along with working as the women’s soccer beat writer for The News. Now, she serves as the deputy sports editor and is on co-op with The Boston Globe.
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