Huskies advance to CAA title game, 1 win away from NCAA Tournament berth

Photo by CAA

The Huskies are on to the championship game.

Northeastern beat UNC Wilmington 79-52 on Monday night, advancing to the Colonial Athletic Association title game. The No. 2 seed Huskies will face No. 1 seed College of Charleston on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, with a coveted NCAA tournament bid at stake.

The CAA championship game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Northeastern led 36-27 at the half, and then followed the same script it did Sunday night in its quarterfinal game by opening up a huge second half lead to secure the win. Junior guard Vasa Pusica scored a team-high 20 points, Shawn Occeus added 18 points, and Tomas Murphy and Maxime Boursiquot each tallied double figures for the Huskies.

In a postgame press conference, Northeastern head coach Bill Coen highlighted the team’s defense and effort, particularly noting Occeus’ work guarding UNCW senior guard Jordon Talley. Talley scored only six points on 2-of-12 shooting against the Huskies. The night before, he poured in 37 points in the quarterfinals.

“We’ve been talking about defense and rebounding in our meetings and our preparation a lot,” Coen said. “I thought tonight we answered the bell.”

Occeus, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year, collected two steals, moving him into sixth place all-time in the Northeastern record books with 64. Northeastern’s defense turned up the pressure in the second half, and at one point held UNC Wilmington scoreless for more than five minutes.

The team is riding a nine-game winning streak into the CAA title game, and has won its first two CAA tournament games by a combined 51 points.

Northeastern and Charleston each won a share of the CAA regular season championship, and will now face off in the CAA title game. Charleston will play in its second straight CAA title game, while Northeastern has now made the championship game for the second time in four seasons.

Northeastern lost both games it played against Charleston this season, but the Huskies hope the third time is the charm.