For the second straight week, the Northeastern Huskies welcomed the second best team in the Colonial Athletic Association on Wednesday, based off conference standings. Last week, the Huskies fell to the visiting Delaware Blue Hens in overtime without leading scorer Joel Smith. This time, Smith was back in action for the Huskies and they were able to defeat the James Madison Dukes, 66-64.
With the victory, Northeastern captured at least a share of the CAA regular season title. The title is their first conference championship since the 1992-1993 season when the Huskies won the regular season in the America East conference.
“This is just another step in a long, long journey,” head coach Bill Coen said. “Our journey started when our freshman first arrived on campus way back in July and we started preparation for our Canada trip. We’re hoping there are a couple more big steps in that journey.”
Not only was the victory a milestone for the Huskies, but it also came on a game-winning jumper by freshman David Walker with 2.4 seconds left, in front of a season-high home crowd of 3,463. The shot simply puts the cherry on top of Walker’s development this season. The rookie from Stow, Ohio played just seven minutes in the team’s season-opening victory and is now a regular starter who logs 30-plus minutes on a nightly basis.
“I came in ready to do whatever coach told me to do,” Walker explains. “Whether that was handle the ball or score, rebound and box out. After all the practice we’ve had, it was just another shot.”
While the victory is a great accomplishment for Northeastern, they still have unfinished business to take care of.
The Huskies will need to beat either Georgia State, on the road, next Wednesday or Old Dominion, at home, next Saturday to guarantee sole-possession of the regular season title and No. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament. If Northeastern drops both, they will leave their fate in the hands of their conference foes that are below them in the standings.
When it all comes down to the final day of CAA play, the Huskies own tiebreakers over JMU and George Mason but are even with Delaware in head-to-head records. The tiebreaker with the Blue Hens is based off of the teams’ respective records against the final second place team.
However, a Huskies win would null all of that crazy talk.