It wasn’t the kind of senior night that Adjehi Baru, Anthony Stitt and Pat Branin had envisioned four years ago when they signed with the College of Charleston.
But then again, it wasn’t the senior season that the trio had hoped for either.
David Walker scored 19 points and Zach Stahl added 11 points to lead four Northeastern players in double figures as the Huskies defeated College of Charleston, 65-56, Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both teams at TD Arena.
The Cougars (8-23, 3-15) will face Drexel in the opening round of the CAA tournament Friday beginning at 8:30 p.m. at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.
Before the game, Branin, Baru and Stitt got the customary send-off by the schools, its fans and the coaching staff. All three started the game against Northeastern, but the trio combined for just two points in their final appearance at TD Arena.
“I felt bad for Adjehi, Anthony and Pat because they’ve given so much to this program during the last four years,” said College of Charleston sophomore guard Canyon Barry, who scored 14 points during the game. “I wish we could have sent them out with a win.”
After a sluggish start, the Cougars caught fire midway through the first half, at one point connecting on eight of 10 shots, including four 3-pointers. After trailing by as many as eight points, the Cougars built a five-point lead, 33-28, on Cameron Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1:46 to play before halftime.
“We did a good job of moving the ball and knocking down our shots,” said College of Charleston sophomore Joe Chealey, who led the Cougars with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists.
The second half was a different story altogether.
The Cougars went nearly five minutes without a basket during one stretch and were outscored, 17-4, to start the second half.
“I don’t know why we go through those stretches where we can’t score,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “We run our offense, we get our shots, we get good looks, and can’t seem to score for whatever reason.”
The real issue came at the free throw line. Much as it has been all season, the Cougars were dominated at the free throw line. Northeastern made more free throws (22) than the Cougars attempted (15) during the game. The Huskies (20-11, 12-6) were a perfect 13 of 13 from the free throw line in the second half. For the season, the Cougars had attempted 323 free throws, while their opponents have made 319 free throws this season.
“It seemed like they didn’t miss a free throw all night,” Chealey said. “We didn’t do a good job of playing defense without fouling. We put them on the free throw line too many times. They did a good job of making us pay.”
Grant wasn’t pleased with the free throw shooting disparity.
“Both of us were driving to the rim and they were getting fouled and we were not,” Grant said. “I got little frustrated by that. That changed the whole game. We couldn’t defend without fouling and obviously they defended without fouling based on the calls that were made.”