Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ugly, But Effective for Northeastern (Recap of William and Mary vs. Northeastern CAA Tournament Quarterfinal)

In the First Round of the CAA Tournament, often you get games that are not aesthically pleasing and are often downright rockfights. Such was the case in the first game of the Friday evening session between #10 seeded William and Mary and #7 seeded Northeastern.

In the first five minutes, the Huskies went out to an 11-4 lead.  The The Tribe had hit their first shot, a three pointer by Brandon Britt, which gave them their only lead of the game at 3-2.  But then William and Mary proceeded to miss their next six shots and turn the ball over three times. Meanwhile, Quincy Ford was showing the crowd why he was named to the CAA All Rookie team, scoring six of the first eleven Northeastern points.

Northeastern then extended the lead to ten, 20-10 with about six and half minutes left.  But after only hitting on four of their first seventeen shots, William and Mary hit on five of their next eight shots while Northeastern went cold from the field, as they only hit one of their nine three point attempts.  The score at the half was 25-22.  It looked like the first team to fifty would win the game.

A year ago, I watched from the Richmond Coliseum stands as Quinn McDowell set an all time CAA Tournament record for point scored in a game with thirty five.  McDowell led his team to an upset of sixth seeded James Madison in the last game of the evening session. It was one of the greatest individual performances I had ever seen in a college basketball game. It was not the first time though that I had witnessed McDowell have a great night.  A few weeks earlier, McDowell had twenty eight points in a classic overtime game vs. Hofstra.

A year later and McDowell has been a shell of himself.  Coming into the game, McDowell was averaging three points less than last season.  His shooting percentage has been way down; 39.9 percent as opposed to 47.5 percent the year before. His three point shooting is significantly down as well; 34.3 percent as opposed to 45.5 percent last season.  Finally, his free throw shooting is also way down; 77 percent as opposed 86.6 percent last season.  He's taking the same number of shots and playing the same number of minutes as last season.

And I could see this from my seat on press row on the court of the Richmond Coliseum.  Though he was passing well (he had five assists), his shot was way off.  He missed four of his first five shots on the night.  And the man I saw last year drain free throw after free throw at the Mack Center and here on this court, missed all three free throws on the night.  It was as if I was watching a completely different player.

That was probably also the difference in the game.  As well as Tim Rusthoven and Marcus Thornton played, they were the only two players for the Tribe to score in double figures.  McDowell, a year removed from scoring thirty five points on this court, scored a total of six points on the night.

Meanwhile, Northeastern had more than enough to win the game.  They went out to a 14-5 run to start the second half to go up 39-27.  William and Mary would only get as close as three points, 46-43 ironically on a layup by McDowell, his last points on the night.

Ford led three Huskies' players in double figures with eighteen points, while Jonathan Lee had eleven points and Joel Smith had ten points. What makes Northeastern impressive is that their lone senior only played three minutes on the evening.  The Huskies would hit fourteen second half free throws and go on to win the game 57-49.

As I said, the first one to fifty won the game.  For Northeastern it was ugly, but effective.

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