Senior guard T.J. Williams hit nothing but net on a fade-away 13 foot jumper to give the Northeastern Huskies a thrilling 61-59 win at Oakland. That was a fitting way for the game to end, as the Huskies controlled the tempo throughout. They held Oakland, who led the Horizon League in field goal percentage (47.3) and with 83.6 points per game, to just 34.9% from the field. Williams played all 40 minutes and was by far the best player on the floor today, finishing with game highs in points (22), rebounds (11), assists (6), and steals (5). Williams is also one of the nation’s most improved players, as he is averaging 21.5 points per game (only 6.8 ppg last season). Despite losing star senior forward Alex Murphy early in the first half to a knee injury, Northeastern was still able to hold off Oakland’s late second half comebacks. But when one man goes down, another one tends to step up. In this case, it was freshman forward Maxime Boursiquot who had a career game with 16 points and 8 rebounds. He shot a very efficient 8-15 from the field.
Northeastern (7-5) has to be feeling good about themselves, after winning at Michigan State on Sunday night, and now beating a very good Oakland (9-2) team. If they can stay healthy, it is clear that the Huskies are on a trajectory to reach the NCAA Tournament for just the second time since 1991. The Huskies have played a tough non-conference schedule, and their five losses were by a combined 17 points. In other words, they are even better than their record would indicate.
As stated before, Oakland is an excellent offensive team. But the Golden Grizzlies just could not penetrate the Huskies 2-3 zone, which also bothered them on their three-point attempts. Oakland’s starting forwards Jalen Hayes and Isaiah Brock played well on both ends, combining for 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Hayes also added a team high 18 points. With Martez Walker and Sherron Dorsey-Walker struggling shooting the ball (1-15 combined from the field), Coach Greg Kampe did a lot of substitutions, hoping the find the right combination. Chris Palombizio and Nick Daniels each had 9 points off the bench, including some big three’s late in the game. But even as the Golden Grizzlies had a chance to steal the game, it was clear that they were outplayed for the vast majority of the game by the Huskies.
What is really amazing about Northeastern’s awesome Great Lakes State road trip is that both MSU and Oakland were undefeated at home, prior to playing the Huskies. MSU was 5-0 and Oakland was 6-0. Northeastern can rest up until they open Colonial Athletic Association play on New Year’s Eve, as they host William & Mary.
Oakland plays tomorrow at Michigan State. In the spirit of college football bowl games, this year’s intrastate showdown should be dubbed the “Last Loss Was to Northeastern Bowl.” And there’s really no shame in being a part of that bowl game.