Team Profile: Northeastern – Wright State Recap
Northeastern 69, Wright State 57
Imagine the reaction, the emotion felt crowdwide when a magician flubs his magic trick. From heightened anticipation to equal parts disdain and unease. The very same sequence repeated itself numerous times in Northeastern’s 69-57 victory over the host Wright State Raiders (16-12) Saturday morning.
With WSU collectively playing the role of blundering magician, and the turnovers the basketball equivalent of a never-appearing rabbit, groans permeated the gleaming Erwin Nutter Center. The 16 team turnovers nearly set a season high for WSU, a typically methodical, sure-handed squad. Legacy recruit Scott Grote committed a career-high five turnovers.
Northeastern (17-10) featured a relatively relaxed 2-3 matchup zone most of the game. By playing off Wright State’s guards and forcing the Raiders with the lost arcs to shoot, Northeastern handed WSU just their 2nd home loss since November 24th. The mistakes WSU made were their own, ambitious to a fault. Instead of cautiously dissecting the zone, players for Wright State tried for the extravagant pass.
“Possession is the most important thing,” offered WSU Coach Brad Brownell midway through the ragged first half. His attempt to calm the troops failed. The Huskies closed the first half on a 16-2 run. Not until after halftime was he able to implement an effective gameplan.
The WSU Juniors came out blazing. Leading scorer, Todd Brown single-handedly cut Northeastern’s 13-point halftime lead to 7 with two flicks of his wrist.
Ronnie Thomas, a modest scorer (3.5 ppg), funneled the soul of Kareem Abdul Jabbar temporarily. Lefty hook. Righty hook. Two free throws and a jumper.
Brown and Thomas combined for 16 of Wright State’s first 18 points out of halftime to essentially wipe away their bumbling start.
Thomas headed to the bench and Brown tuckered out. Northeastern pulled away again on exceptional outside shooting. Senior Husky Eugene Spates netted a career-high 22 points, trailed nearly by Chaisson Allen (20 points). Each nailed three triples.
Neither team is in position for an at-large bid. WSU is battling Milwaukee for a 4 seed in the Horizon League. Northeastern is just one game behind VCU, the Colonial Conference leader, but VCU has two games remaining. Both games are against middling opponents. Northeastern faces the most difficult late-season schedule and desperately needs to break a three-game conference losing streak. Both teams are in line for a 13 or 14 seed should they win their conference tournaments.