Northeastern was back in the NCAA tournament, but nothing went as planned for the 13th-seeded Huskies as they fell to the fourth-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, 87-53, Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Kansas star Dedric Lawson took over early with a couple of nice defensive stops and the first seven points for the Jayhawks. He didn't let up all game, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Jordan Roland had the first six points for the Huskies and eight of their first eleven. In general, Northeastern did not look intimidated by Kansas for a good portion of the first half. They did a solid job in the early stages of not letting Kansas’ big guys get chances in close proximity to the rim. Bolden Brace especially did a great job rebounding and creating scoring opportunities with four rebounds and four assists through the first 13 minutes.
With 6:22 to go in the first half at Kansas’ first timeout, the Jayhawks led 22-19. Kansas was shooting just 11.1 percent (1-9) from three-point range at that point. Fortunately for them, they responded after the timeout by widening their lead to 12 with nine straight points.
Kansas really began to run away with things in the later portion of the first half. Lawson was at the forefront of their first-half success with 16 points (6-12 from the field) and seven rebounds, and Devon Dotson had nine points and three rebounds. The presences of Lawson and Dotson and poor shooting from the field made things tough for Northeastern, and Kansas pushed the score to 37-25 entering the half.
The Huskies weren't ready to roll over after a tough first half, as they scored the first five points of the second. But then Kansas responded with 10 straight points of their own, effectively dousing the flame the Huskies came out with.
It was 57-36 Kansas midway through the second half, and Kansas’ dominance in the paint and in the rebounding department were prominent factors for their success. The Jayhawks had 40 points in the paint to eight for the Huskies at the midway point. Kansas wound up with a 45-27 edge in rebounding.
It was pretty much all Kansas the rest of the way, as their talent was just too much. Limiting Northestern star Vasa Pusica to just seven points was big for Kansas as well, as the senior guard just never found his rhythm and shot 2-of-13 from the field.
This season’s appearance marked the second dance in the last five years for the Huskies, and ninth in school history. They beat Hofstra 82-74 in the Colonial Athletic championship game, an accomplishment they can be proud of despite the disappointing end Thursday evening.