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Huskies set for finale of historic regular season

The men’s basketball team will hit the hardwood at Matthews Arena for its regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon vs. Old Dominion, capping a thrilling and historic run for the Huskies.

The game starts at noon and will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

The Huskies (19–10, 14–3 in CAA play) captured the program’s first ever Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title this year, locking up the coveted No. 1 seed in the conference tournament beginning March 9 in Richmond, Va. With the top seed, Northeastern is guaranteed an opening-round bye, meaning the Huskies would need victories in both the semifinal and final round to earn the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid in 25 years.

Throughout its memorable season, Northeastern has persevered through adversity and pressure-filled contests. The Huskies survived losing senior co-captain Jonathan Lee to injury for a significant stretch to open the season, and the battle-tested squad is 11–3 in CAA games decided by seven points or less. Five of the team’s last 15 games have gone to overtime, four of which the Huskies have won.

Northeastern’s 90–84 overtime victory Wednesday night at Georgia State—in which the Huskies overcame a 13-point first-half deficit—featured several milestones. Senior co-captain Joel Smith tied a career high with 29 points; the Huskies set a CAA record by shooting a perfect 27-of-27 from the free throw line; and Lee’s nine assists was the highest individual total for a Husky this season.

Different players have stepped up all season long when the team needed big plays the most—particularly in the waning seconds of close games. In the season opener against Boston University, sophomore Demetrius Pollard hit a last-second three-pointer to lift the Huskies over their cross-town rival; the following game, sophomore Quincy Ford dropped a season-high 27 points to lead the Huskies to a one-point win at Princeton; and on Feb. 20, freshman David Walker’s baseline jumper in the final seconds was the difference in a two-point win over James Madison.

In a teleconference call this week, head coach Bill Coen was asked how much the team’s balance has contributed to its success.

“We’re getting contributions up and down the lineup, and there’s an unsung hero each and every night. It’s been exciting to see guys step up,” he said. “There’s been growth in some of our younger players, and there’s a confidence growing in that group.”

Coen was also quick to credit his two senior guards, Smith and Lee. “They’ve played so many great games for us throughout their careers,” he said.

Coen’s own masterful job this season hasn’t gone unnoticed. In a Sports Illustrated column last month, college basketball reporter and TV analyst Seth Davis listed Coen among his top Coach of the Year candidates.

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