By: Nick Blaszczak, Student Journalist
BANGOR – The Husson Eagles have earned their right to host the North Atlantic Conference Championship Tournament after ousting the Thomas Terriers 87-78 at Newman Gymnasium on Wednesday night. Led by Junior guard Raheem Anderson, the Eagles dominated the Terriers.
Husson (18-6, 14-3 NAC) picked up their 50th home win over Thomas (12-12, 8-9 NAC) and now hold an all-time 94-9 lead in the series.
The matchup looked to be an intense back-and-forth affair right from the opening tip with each team trading early buckets. Tied at six apiece, the Eagles stepped on the proverbial gas pedal, accelerating to a 34-15 lead thanks to Zach Curran and Darryl Wood. The duo combined for eight points in the 29-9 run.
The Curran and Wood performances were notable for wearing down Terrier center Carlos Gonzalez. The 6-foot-7 center is the conference leader in rebounds, averaging 10 per game. Gonzalez was limited to seven rebounds on Wednesday and faced constant pressure. The ability to contain Gonzalez helped Husson win the battle for the boards (43-26).
Despite a fast start to the night, Thomas struggled to move the ball in the first half. The Terriers looked to match the tempo of the Eagles with deep passes to outlet players. However, the execution of the lob passes were poor. High, arching throws from end-to-end resulted in turnovers.
After an unsuccessful first half, the Terriers found themselves down 51-28 heading into the locker room.
In the second half, Thomas came out firing and made Husson play their game. The Terriers attacked the ball, forced turnovers, and hit three-point shots. Adam Carlsen helped the Terriers go on a 13-4 run by nailing two shots from beyond the arc. Carlsen finished with 11 points but couldn’t seem to match his previous shooting performance; a game in which the senior had 15 points knocking down five three point shots to start the game.
In the midst of a momentum swing, Husson became overzealous and put Thomas into the bonus (one-and-one) less than 10 minutes into the second half. Coach Caruso called a timeout after Tyheem Simon sank both shots for Thomas as the first member going to the line for one-and-one in the second half.
The timeout proved to be pivotal as Raheem Anderson found his scoring touch. Anderson accrued 19 of his 23 points in the second half. The speed, quickness, and elusiveness that Anderson plays with allowed him to maneuver around the court with ease. Anderson’s ability to drive the lane created wide open space for his teammates.
Trevon Butler feeds off of Anderson’s playmaking ability. Butler finished with 13 points and six rebounds. According to Chris Czachor, coach Caruso denotes that the twosome are proven leaders.
“Raheem Anderson and Trevon Butler kind of lead the way, but everyone else plays off them,” said Caruso.
The Terriers made a last ditch effort to come within four points of the Eagles but it wouldn’t be enough to pull off a comeback. Free throws by Anderson and Butler buried Thomas’ chances. The Eagles went on to capture an 87-78 victory.
Levi Barnes led the Terriers with 22 points while Tyheem Simon put up 19 of his own.
Thomas finishes their season at home on Saturday against Maine Maritime (5-19, 4-13 NAC). Opening tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m.
Husson rounds out their season on the road against UMaine-Farmington (3-21, 3-14 NAC) on Saturday. Game-time is also slated for 3:00 p.m.