Streaks were extended after a double-overtime thriller at Matthews Arena as the Northeastern men’s basketball team walked away with its seventh consecutive victory, 95-91 over William & Mary Wednesday night.
Joel Smith scored 29 points, including 16 in the extra sessions, to help Northeastern improve to 7-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association for the first time since joining the conference in 2005.
Smith scored 11 points in the second overtime. His layup put the Huskies (12-7) ahead for good, 83-82, with 3:27 remaining, and his 3-pointer gave them a 4-point lead.
Jonathan Lee added 19 points and David Walker 17 for the Huskies.
Tim Rusthoven had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Marcus Thornton scored 23 points to pace the Tribe (7-11, 1-6 in the CAA), which lost its eighth straight.
“You can throw records out the window. You just got to come in ready to compete for 40 minutes, keep your concentration and your focus and play team basketball,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said.
The Tribe came out of the break blazing, doubling their first-half production for 38 points in 14 minutes. A layup by William & Mary junior guard Brandon Britt cut NU’s lead to 60-57. Another Britt layup knotted the game at 68 to send it to the first overtime.
“You have to credit to William & Mary, they came out of the locker room and executed their stuff,” Coen said. “They got some easy baskets, got some confidence up and from there on it was a basketball game. We were very fortunate to come away with the victory.”
A 7-0 run in the second OT, sparked by a Smith layup and punctuated with a Walker dunk with 28 seconds left, gave NU the lead at 93-88.
It’s the Huskies’ best start in league play since a 9-0 run during the 1986-87 America East season.
In their first seven CAA games, the Huskies have already knocked off the top contenders on the road, including a 10-point win at George Mason to open league play, an 11-point win at Towson, and a 4-point victory at Delaware.
The Huskies took a 34-19 lead into the locker room, highlighted by a late 11-2 run, but they had to fight back after blowing that big halftime lead.
“I thought our first half, I was extremely pleased,” Coen said. “I thought we shared the ball as well as did and moved the ball around as have all year long. I thought our defense was dialed in . . . the second half got away from us pretty quickly.”
William & Mary shot 73.1 percent (19 of 26) in the second half to rally from a 53-39 deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
“What I really admired [tonight] was the mental toughness and togetherness that we displayed,” Coen said. “A lot of teams after surrendering a 15-point halftime lead wouldn’t be able to find a way to win.”