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NCAA Basketball CAA Basketball

Without Joel Smith, Northeastern Huskies Fail To Clinch CAA Regular Season Title

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Northeastern Huskies and Delaware Blue Hens met, the two programs were first and second respectively in the conference standings. That contest took place in Newark, Del. But, the results were different when the two teams squared off again as first and second place teams in the Colonial Athletic Association in Boston on Wednesday as Delaware came out victorious 76-74 in overtime.

Northeastern was without longtime starter and leading scorer Joel Smith in this one. Smith, a potential CAA Player of the Year candidate, dressed for the game but never left the bench for real time action. His coach’s DNP broke his streak of 71 straight starts for the Huskies and 92 straight game appearances.

Delaware (14-12, 9-4) didn’t care who was on the court for the Northeastern as they came out ready to play behind their big stud down low, senior forward Jamelle Hagins. The Preseason All-CAA 1st Team selection poured in 17 points on 7-8 shooting and also grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds. But it was Jarvis Threatt who came away with the team-high 20 points and the NBA-range three-pointer that eventually proved to be the game-winner in overtime.

“We called timeout to make Jamelle aware that he was about to get double-teamed,” head coach Monte Ross said of his timeout before Threatt’s dagger. “The play out of the timeout was supposed to go to Jamelle. But Jarvis came up big and we were very fortunate.”

For Northeastern (17-9, 12-2), it was a question of who would step up in Smith’s absence. A team that’s dealt with adversity all season, the Huskies under head coach Bill Coen, have carried themselves with a “next man up” attitude all season. That mindset showed Wednesday as Quincy Ford was more than willing to produce offensively for Coen. The sophomore scored 21 points, was perfect from the charity stripe and also added six rebounds. But, clearly it wasn’t enough.

“We’ve been playing without key players all season,” Coen told reporters after the game. “[Jonathan Lee] missed the first nine games of the season earlier in the year and we had success. I’m not going to use Joel’s injury as an excuse.”

But this game was bigger than any other of the season for Northeastern.

The Huskies squandered their chance to clinch at least a share of the CAA regular season title. With the loss, Northeastern will still be searching for that clinching victory when they visit the UNCW Seahawks on Saturday. Entering that game, the Huskies’ magic number is still two to clinch sole possession of the regular season as well as the 1-seed in the CAA Tournament down in Richmond.

 

Jake Fischer is the CAA Columnist for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. He also hosts the CAA Relay Podcast. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.