(Boston, MA) – Sometimes, no matter what the scoreboard says, there are no losers.
On Wednesday night, a surging Northeastern squad and a stumbling William & Mary team took the floor between the steel beams and wrought iron girders of historic Matthews Arena – the oldest sports arena in the world. The Huskies raced out of the tunnel onto their home court riding a six game winning streak and stood atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings at a perfect 6-0. William & Mary stepped onto the hostile hardwood losers of seven in a row and 1-6 in conference play; second to last in the 11 team CAA.
But for 50 minutes of game time, the two squads played as equals, engaging in one of the most epic battles and grittiest, hardest fought and flat out best games you’re likely to see at any level of ball. The game featured break-neck-paced runs and slow, methodical ground based attacks; high-flying dunks and long-bombs from well behind the arc, as well as dirty work battles in the trenches below the hoop; offensive outbursts and suffocating defense; and enough tilt-a-whirl emotion and momentum swings to leave the teams, coaches and fans in attendance staggering.
Both teams were knocked down, and both pulled themselves back up off the mat and continued the frantic fight.
In the end, Northeastern emerged with a 95-91 double-overtime win. William & Mary certainly didn’t lose.
“I said to my players after the game, there’s a real mixture of feelings in me right now: Deep, sincere anger at the way we played the first half of this ballgame and great pride, great pride, in the effort and character they showed in responding to a pretty good challenge at halftime,” said William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver.
“There were a lot of mistakes in the second half, but what a really admired was the mental toughness and togetherness we displayed,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.
Senior guard Joel Smith led the Huskies, tying a career-high scoring 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Senior point guard Jonathan Lee added 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting while playing all 50 minutes of game-time.
“I thought it was the mental toughness of our senior back court, and particularly Joel Smith, who stepped up possession after possession and made huge plays for us,” said Coen.
Freshman guard David Walker missed his first two shots of the night for the Huskies but didn’t miss again, scoring a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting including 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Forwards Zach Stahl and Quincy Ford added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Tribe were led by junior forward Tim Rusthoven, who for 38 minutes was the best player on the floor. The 6’9” banger scored 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals. Rusthoven played a huge role in neutralizing the Huskies’ frontcourt of Ford and Reggie Spencer, who shot a combined 4-of-21 from the floor. (more…)