The No. 2 Northeastern Huskies (23-10) were locked and loaded against the No. 1 Hofstra Pride (27-7) during their rubber match on Tuesday night. The 82-74 win captured the CAA title and gave the Huskies their first NCAA Tournament bid since the 2015 season. From the outset, the Huskies set the pace of the game. In fact, it almost seemed to easy in the first 20 minutes.
Despite Vasa Pusica getting into early foul trouble, the Huskies built a 42-26 halftime lead. For a team that once had a 16-game winning streak, the lead seemed daunting going into halftime. However, the Pride entered the CAA conference tournament as the No. 1 seed for a reason.
The Pride commenced the second half with an 8-0 run to cut the lead in half. They continued to claw back until the game was tied at 54. In fact, the Huskies appeared to be reeling and ready to cough up the double digit lead. Meaning, the Pride began the second half on a 28-12 run. At this point, it would have been fathomable if the Hofstra won by double digits.
Instead, that’s when Pusica’s poise shone the brightest on the biggest stage. He clearly dribbled the ball up to a comfortable spot and launched a 25-foot 3-point attempt that sent shockwaves through the Pride. The Huskies earned an and-1 on the next possession. Although the foul shot was missed, the run was thwarted and the 59-54 lead was only the beginning. Pusica continued flame throw from deep. He finished the game with 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Keep in mind, Pusica was 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Bolden Brace almost played the perfect game for the Huskies. Brace was one assist shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. The Huskies had five players reach double figures. They also had two more player score nine points apiece. Yes, it was a total team effort and the Huskies will be rewarded with an opportunity in the big dance.
The Huskies finished the season with seven straight wins. In fact, they have won 11 of their last 12 outings to come into the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in college basketball.
Justin Wright-Foreman led the Pride with 29 points. However, he only accounted for one assists as the most of the team struggled to get great shots. Wright-Foreman also shot 2 of 9 from 3-point range. The Pride finished 6 of 20 from the 3-point line, while the Huskies knocked in 14 of 31 shots from deep.
Overall, the Huskies shot a smooth 50 percent from the field in the win. Even when they went through a cold spell early in the second half, the offense continued to get some good looks. It was only a matter of time before they continued to knock down shots.