The class of the Colonial Athletic Association came to Boston and delivered a performance worthy of a Top 25 program.
No. 18 ranked College of Charleston started strong and rolled to an 87-61 victory over Northeastern in a matinee match on Saturday at Matthews Arena.
Charleston extended the nation’s longest win streak to 20 games and improved to 21-1 overall and 9-0 in the CAA. The Huskies, winners of their last two, fell to 8-11 and 4-4. NU leads the series 11-10 and has won five of the last eight meetings.
Charleston shot 47.2% from the floor with nine treys and enjoyed a 42-36 edge on the boards. NU shot 35.7% from the floor with eight 3-point shots.
“First and foremost, it was a conference game and a home game and that alone brings it to a certain level of urgency,” said NU coach Bill Coen, who is in his 17th season. “You have to tip your hat to Charleston. They are a tremendous team and they have a great bench with a lot of depth and today was their day.”
Northeastern played its 34th game against an AP top 25 opponent but only the third at Matthews Arena. The Huskies hosted No. 20 Duke on Dec. 30, 1995 and No. 1 Michigan State in a matinee game on Dec. 19, 2015.
MSU legendary coach Tom Izzo returned to Matthews that night for the basketball/hockey double header and was cheerleading behind the Spartans’ bench in a 2-1 loss to the Huskies. Northeastern’s last win against a ranked opponent was at No. 15 Miami on Nov. 27, 2015.
“Obviously they are a ranked opponent it is not too often you get a ranked opponent at home,” said Coen. “It was missed opportunity by our group to capitalize on that.”
The two camps got after each other from the opening tap with hard play on both ends. Graduate guard Ryan Larson netted seven points in the opening segment to give the Cougars a 14-8 lead into the first media timeout.
The game transitioned into a defensive struggle. Charleston went up 21-11 on a corner trey by forward Ben Burnham with 12:32 to play. The Huskies countered with seven straight and were down 21-18 at the third media timeout.
NU cut the lead to 23-21 on a 3-ball by junior forward Coleman Stucke. The Cougars retaliated with a 13-0 run and went up 36-21 on a trey by Raekwon Horton with 3:21 to play. Charleston led 42-26 at the break.
“They come at you 10 strong and all those guys can play and do something that affects the game,” said Coen. “They never have a drop off when they go to their bench.
“You have to chip away at it and you have to make sure you control what you can control. Our effort getting back on defense wasn’t what it needed to be.”
Forward Chris Doherty, who finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds, gave the Huskies a lift with a six-point spurt at the start of the second half, but the Cougars responded and went up 51-32 at the first media timeout. By that point in the match, Northeastern had no answers.