By: Matt Doherty
T.J. Williams and Alex Murphy combined for 50 points for the Northeastern Huskies as they knocked off the visiting Boston University Terriers by a score of 87-77 in Friday night’s season opener at Matthews Arena.
Williams, a senior guard from Pflugerville, Texas, scored a game-high 30 points on 9-15 shooting to pace the Huskies while Murphy, a graduate transfer from Florida, finished with 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field to go with a 3-4 mark from behind the arc. The two veterans were too much for the Terriers to handle.
BU struggled out of the gate en route to a 41-25 halftime deficit. The Terriers shot a dismal 1-13 mark from three point range in the first half. The offense featured no flow, isolation ball, and contested shots.
The offensive problems combined with the inability to stay in front of Williams led to easy baskets for the Huskies and a 16 point deficit for the Terriers.
BU came out in the second half with much more vengeance. The Terriers finally figured out Northeastern’s zone. Using ball movement, Cheddi Mosely, Cedric Hankerson, and Destin Barnes all nailed three pointers in the opening minutes. A Mosely fast break layup cut the Northeastern lead to five with 11 minutes remaining.
Senior Eric Fanning also helped surge the second half comeback. Fanning finished with 29 points, going 10-18 from the field, while tallying 7 rebounds.
However, BU simply could not stop Williams. Continuously knifing through the Terrier defense, Williams was scoring on layups, finding teammates, or going to the foul line in the second half. When it wasn’t Williams, Murphy made his impact scoring 15 second half points including two consecutive three pointers.
Murphy and Williams scored 32 of the Huskies 47 second half points.
“These two guys carried us in big moments. Every Time BU made a run at us, one of these two guys made a play,” Northeastern Coach Bill Koen said after the game.
Murphy, a former ESPN Top 50 recruit, started his career at Duke before transferring to Florida. After battling multiple injuries, he was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA, and used his graduate year to play for the Huskies. Murphy was relieved to finally get back on the court.
“It felt great just to be back out there on the court with the guys. There was some nervous energy but it felt great to be out there,” Murphy said.
The Huskie veterans outplayed the BU veterans on Friday. Redshirt junior Cedric Hankerson scored six points (2-11 FG) in his first game back from a torn ACL and sophomore point guard Kyle Foreman scored three points (1-6 FG) with four turnovers and fouled out in just 15 minutes of play.
Justin Alston and Destin Barnes presented bright spots for the Terriers though.
Alston, a fifth-year senior who missed the final 26 games last year with a foot injury, notched 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Barnes, a freshman from Chicago, played 15 second half minutes scoring 11 points (3-4 3FG ) in his collegiate debut.
At the end of the day, the Terriers could not climb out of the hole they dug themselves into in the first half.
Northeastern also received contributions from Donnell Gresham (12 points) and Jeremy Miller (six points, seven rebounds) but it was Murphy and Williams who carried the torch.
BU Head Coach Joe Jones noted how the Terriers have been battling injuries and the rhythm wasn’t there. Jones said he was not worried about his team after the game.
“We’re going to have a very good team. We will get better there is no doubt. I feel good about my team,” Jones said.
The Terriers will get a chance at redemption next Friday when they welcome the same Huskies to Case Gym for their home opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
- The Terriers used the starting lineup of Foreman, Mosely, Fanning, Havener, and Alston
- Max Mahoney, Tyler Scanlon, and Barnes all made their collegiate debuts Friday
- Senior seven footers Dylan Haines and Blaise Mbargorba did not play Friday
- Mbargorba has been battling an injury according to Jones but it is unclear if that is why he didn’t play Friday
- Junior point guard Eric Johnson also missed Friday’s game due to injury
- John Papale is a graduate assistant for Jones just months after completing his Terrier career