Northeastern Earns Share of CAA Title After Close Win

Neither team had more than a three point lead for the majority of the last seven minutes of play, but thanks to a late baseline jumper by freshman David Walker, Northeastern prevailed with a 66-64 win and earned a share of the program’s first Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title.

“I guess it was another shot,” said Walker, who finished with 11 points and was one of three NU players in double figures. “Jon made the play, drew two guys, and made an incredible pass. I was just fortunate to be in the right spot and make the shot.”

The Huskies did not escape without sweating it out at the end of the game, as three timeouts were called – two by James Madison, one by NU – before a desperation three-pointer was caught by JMU freshman Andre Nation, who grabbed the airball and laid it in. Referees immediately waived the basket off and then checked the video monitor for confirmation. Replays confirmed the lay up was a split second too late, and Northeastern escaped with the win.

“They got a great look at the end of the game - probably too good a look for my liking,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen. “But we were fortunate to make enough plays and this is a big victory for our program."

Coen faced a difficult decision when his second leading scorer Quincy Ford committed his fourth foul with 15:56 remaining in the second half. Coen sat him on the bench, but felt it was necessary to return the sophomore star around the 10-minute mark.

“It’s a tough call, everyone wants to know when you will put him back (in),” said Coen. “But he’s played enough basketball - he knows how to count to five. Sometime you can relieve a guy and get him out of rhythm on the bench. We wanted to get him back in because we knew he could make such big contributions for us. It was a gamble, but it paid off in the end.”

While still an underclassmen, Ford said he felt confident playing one foul away from sitting on the bench for the remainder of a big game for his team.

“At first I got a little concerned,” said Ford, who led the team in scoring with 14 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line, with most of those free throws coming down the stretch. “But after talking to coach he let me know to not change my mindset, stay aggressive and be smart.”

The Huskies seemed to be in trouble when the Dukes went on a 7-0 run to take a 54-48 lead with 7:32 remaining in the second half. Then Northeastern quickly jumped back with six straight free throws to tie the game with 6:25 remaining in the tilt.

Although it took a late David Walker jumper, free throws are essentially what won the game for Northeastern. They were 14-15 from the line in the last eight minutes of play, and this put them into position to win the game late.

“This is another step in our journey,” Coen said. “We’re hoping there’s a couple more big steps, but we’re certainly grateful for what we’ve accomplished so far. We’re pleased, but we’re not satisfied. We want more.”

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