Huskies follow Allen
Senior leads NU over spunky BU
Northeastern returns only one significant scorer from a team that won 20 games last season and was selected for the National Invitation Tournament for the second time in school history.
Chaisson Allen, the lone senior in the starting lineup, bears the burden of both leadership and knowing he has to score for the Huskies to be successful.
“He’s essential,’’ coach Bill Coen said. “We ask him to bring the ball over, we ask him to rebound, we ask him to score points, we ask him to play defense in the post, play defense in the perimeter.’’
Allen was up to all of those tasks last night, scoring 20 points as Northeastern edged Boston University, 66-64.
The old rivals, who have played 138 times since 1920, should open the season against each other every year if last night was an indication. While Matthews Arena was not close to full, an enthusiastic crowd of 2,339 saw a tense game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
“Great city rivalry game,’’ BU coach Pat Chambers said. “Hopefully a few more people come out next year. We knew it would be a battle.’’
BU trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half. Terriers senior John Holland, a tough swingman from the Bronx, scored 16 of his 25 points in the final 9:31 to get his team back in the game. BU closed to within 1 point twice, the final time with just over three minutes to go.
“We started playing hard and playing more together,’’ Holland said.
The 6-foot-4-inch Allen took over, stealing the ball from freshman D.J Irving and feeding Joel Smith for a fast-break layup. Two free throws by Allen with 1:25 left pushed the lead to 5.
“I take it on my shoulders. It’s a great challenge for me as a player and a leader of the team. These guys look to me,’’ said Allen, who added six rebounds and five assists despite playing with a sore left hip and missing three minutes with leg cramps in the second half.
Northeastern freshman guard Alex Harris, who had 12 points in his debut, made two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to secure the win. Kauri Black, a sophomore forward, added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
BU has only three players back from a team that won 21 games. Chambers, in his second season, rebuilt the roster with three Division 1 transfers and seven freshmen.
In time, as the newcomers learn to play with Holland and senior forward Jake O’Brien (11 points, eight rebounds), the Terriers will improve.
In Irving, BU has a point guard with Big East-level quickness. Chambers, once an assistant at Villanova, returned to Pennsylvania to get a player he can build around. Irving had 14 points and five assists in 27 minutes, getting through the Northeastern defense whenever he took the initiative.
“We definitely found a really solid point guard,’’ Chambers said.