Entering their respective Colonial Athletic Association conference play openers on Thursday night, the George Mason Patriots and Northeastern Huskies experienced very different levels of success during the non-conference schedule. Widely respected as the top team in the CAA, Mason earned a 7-5 record against non-conference opponents as the Huskies struggled down the stretch and have just a 5-7 record.
But, when the two teams expected to be contenders in the CAA this spring met in the Patriot Center, the Huskies looked to be the poised and well-rounded team that has been so successful thus far this season.
George Mason’s height-advantage wasn’t really a factor. Their terrific depth wasn’t really a factor. And, what some would consider a coaching advantage, with Paul Hewitt at the helm, did not factor in either.
The Huskies had lost 6 of their last 7 contests before beating the Patriots 84-74.
Northeastern really solidified their triumphant upset victory with a late run in the second half. The run was led by a terrific effort from the Husky backcourt and wing players that featured freshman guard Zach Stahl’s career-high 15 points off the bench on 5-8 shooting. Guards Jonathan Lee, Joel Smith and Demetrius Pollard and forward Quincy Ford also added a combined 54 points.
This season, members of CAA basketball circles knew the Huskies had one of the premier arsenals of wing and backcourt players in the conference. Thursday, the college basketball world got a taste at just how effective this team can be when those players are clicking on all cylinders and playing cohesively. With more consistent play from their frontcourt as well, the Huskies could seriously be a contender for the CAA conference crown come March.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.