NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 12, 2019) – Northeastern used a dominant first-half performance and a strong finish to defeat top-seeded Hofstra, 82-74, and capture the 2019 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship, presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs.
It was the second CAA title in the past five years for the second-seeded Huskies (23-10), who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Hofstra, which fell to 27-7, will compete in the NIT after claiming the CAA regular-season title.
Senior Vasa Pusica received tournament Most Outstanding Performers honors after draining 7-of-12 threes and scoring a team-high 21 points. He led a balanced scoring effort as all seven Huskies who took the floor scored at least nine points. Bolden Brace nearly recorded a triple-double with 10 points, a team-high 10 rebounds and nine assists, and NU got 11 points apiece from Shawn Occeus, Jordan Roland and Tomas Murphy.
Hofstra was once again paced by CAA Player of the Year Justin Wright-Foreman, who poured in a game-high 29 points. Wright-Foreman, who set the tournament scoring record with 42 points in the semifinals, broke the CAA record for points in a season with 919. Eli Pemberton added 15 points and forward Jacquil Taylor had eight points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Northeastern was clicking on all cylinders in the opening half. Offensively, the Huskies shot 53.6% from the floor, including 7-of-15 from three, while limiting Hofstra to just 28.1% FG shooting. NU was up by just three midway through the period before going on a 21-8 run capped by a Donnell Gresham layup that made it 36-20 with 3:19 to go. The Huskies took a 42-26 advantage into halftime.
Hofstra came out of the locker room and quickly changed the momentum. The Pride went on a 12-2 surge over the first 3:30 and pulled within 44-38 on a Wright-Foreman layup. Northeastern built the lead back to 10, 54-44, on a Pusica trey with 13:12 to go. However, the Pride answered with 10 consecutive points and tied the game at 54-54 on a pair of Taylor free throws with 9:13 remaining.
Pusica took over from there, hitting a 3-pointer to put the Huskies back on top and then adding two more treys during the 17-6 surge that gave Northeastern a commanding 71-60 lead with 3:58 to play.
Hofstra pulled as close as 71-66 with 2:03 left, but Northeastern converted 8-of-10 free throws in the final 1:05 to end the comeback.
Northeastern shot 50% from the floor for the game and made 14-of-31 from beyond the arc. Hofstra finished at 39% from the floor, despite hitting 51.9% of its attempts in the second half.
Pusica was joined on the CAA All-Tournament team by Occeus, while Hofstra was represented by Wright-Foreman and Taylor. Rounding out the squad were Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley and Delaware guard Ithiel Horton.
CAA All-Tournament Team: Jarrell Brantley, Charleston; Ithiel Horton, Delaware; Shawn Occeus, Northeastern; Jacquil Taylor, Hofstra; Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra