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Second-half surge propels men’s basketball to win in CAA opener

Story by Northeastern Athletics.

Northeastern scored 54 second-half points to rally from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat George Mason, 84-74, on Thursday night in Fairfax, Va. Playing before a national TV audience, the Huskies shot 64 percent in the second half to hand the Patriots just their third home loss in the last two years.

Senior Jonathan Lee (Flint, Mich.) scored 20 points to lead all scorers. Sophomore Quincy Ford (St. Petersburg, Fla.) tallied 18 points and freshman Zach Stahl (Chanhassen, Minn.) added a career-high 15 points, all in the second half.

Trailing by four with less than eight minutes remaining, Northeastern (6-7, 1-0 CAA) closed the game on an impressive 30-16 run. The Huskies used an 11-0 spurt to take a 10-point lead with 3:09 remaining and never looked back. Mason (7-6, 0-1 CAA) cut the margin to six twice in the game’s final 30 seconds, but the Huskies iced the game at the free-throw line.

Joel Smith (Leander, Texas) pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to go with eight points. Demetrius Pollard (Virginia Beach, Va.) added eight points, followed by Reggie Spencer (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) with seven, Dinko Marshavelski (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) with four, David Walker (Stow, Ohio) with two, and Derrico Peck (Woodstock, Ga.) with two. Walker dished out a career-high and team-best six assists, including five in the second half.

Sherrod Wright led Mason with 19 points. Northeastern was the first team in more than a month to hold Wright to fewer than 20 points. Vertrail Vaughns added 13 points and Erik Copes pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Trailing by seven at the break, the Huskies put together a 12-5 run out of the locker room to tie the game, 42-42, less than four minutes into the half. Ford ignited the run with a 3-pointer on the opening possession. Smith added a layup, Lee followed with a jumper and a 3-pointer, and Walker finished a dunk in transition to knot the score.

Mason answered with an 8-2 run to take a 50-44 lead and force a Northeastern timeout with 13:14 showing on the clock. Ford hit a jumper out of the timeout and, following a Patriots basket, Lee hit back-to-back jumpers and Spencer added a basket to again tie the score, 52-52, with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Just over a minute later, it looked as though the game might turn as Northeastern’s Spencer headed to the bench with his fourth foul and Mason immediately connected on a 3-pointer. Stahl, though, answered the call, scoring 10 of the Huskies’ next 13 points to give the visitors a 62-60 lead with 5:28 remaining.

Vaughns connected on a three to again give Mason the lead—its last of the game—before Northeastern’s young pups seized control of the game with an 11-0 run. Stahl got things started with another three. Pollard followed with a jumper and Ford a three before Stahl capped the run with a traditional three-point play to give the Red and Black a 73-63 lead with just over 3:00 showing on the clock.

Mason continued to battle, but Bill Coen’s Huskies converted 9-of-10 free-throw attempts and Lee added a transition layup to secure the win.

In the first half, Northeastern took an early 4-0 lead on baskets by Spencer and Smith, and led 9-5 before the home-standing Patriots rattled off a 10-0 run to grab a 15-9 lead at the 13:23 mark. The Huskies answered with a 7-2 run behind a jumper from Spencer, a 3-pointer from Pollard and free throws from Lee, to pull to within one near the midway point of the half.

With the score tied, 25-25, Mason pieced together a 12-3 run to take a nine-point lead—its largest of the game—in the half’s closing moments. Peck converted a layup for Northeastern as time expired to set the halftime score at 37-30.

Northeastern’s 54-point second-half effort was the third-best in a CAA game in program history. Northeastern scored 55 points in a half twice—Feb. 2, 2011, against VCU, and Jan. 21, 2006, against Hofstra. The Huskies now have opened the month of January with a Colonial Athletic Association win for the fourth time in five years.

For the game, Northeastern shot 53 percent (28-53), including 56 percent (9-16) from beyond the arc. The Huskies were 86 percent (19-22) from the free-throw line. Mason shot 46 percent (28-61) for the game, including 35 percent (7-20) from 3-point range, and was a perfect 100 percent (11-11) from the charity stripe. The Patriots won the rebounding battle, 34-27.

Northeastern’s second-half numbers were impressive. The Huskies hit 64 percent (18-28) of their shot attempts, including going 67 percent (6-9) from long range and 86 percent (12-14) from the free throw line. Northeastern also had 12 assists to just four turnovers in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Northeastern will have little time to enjoy Thursday’s win. The Huskies will return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m., when UNCW visits Matthews Arena. Tickets are available at GoNU.com/tickets.

The game will also feature free admission for Northeastern faculty and staff and their families and friends. To register, visit GoNU.com/NUtailgate.