By Brian Willwerth
BOSTON, MA – There is no question as to who the best team in the CAA is anymore. And there’s no mistake about who the new fan favorite is on Huntington Avenue.
The Northeastern Huskies sent a statement on Sunday night, soundly defeating George Mason at Matthews Arena, 71-51. NU is now a perfect 8-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and has a three-game lead over Mason and James Madison.
“I thought we played a solid, team brand of basketball,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen. “I thought that the team showed some pretty good discipline in the face of some pretty physical defense.”
As for the fan favorite, that would be Dinko Marshavelski. The redshirt junior from Bulgaria came off the bench to score 11 points, one of four Huskies in double-figures. Joel Smith and Quincy Ford had 15 apiece, and Reggie Spencer had 14. But it was “Dinko,” as the student section often chanted, who caught much of the attention.
“We won’t be the best basketball team we can be until he forces his way into the lineup. And he’s starting to do that,” said Coen of Marshavelski’s play.
Northeastern led 29-21 at the half, and never trailed in the second. Every time the Patriots tried to mount a comeback, the Huskies had an answer. The key moment came with about six and a half minutes remaining. Mason had cut the lead to four, the closest the Patriots got in the entire second half. But the Huskies went on a 17-4 run over the next four minutes to put the game out of reach. NU was 7 of 15 from behind the 3-point line, with 5 of those 7 coming in the second half. The Huskies moved the ball around the perimeter extremely well, particularly in the second half.
Defensively, the effort was solid. The 51 points were the fewest allowed by the Huskies in a game this season. They held GMU leading scorer Sherrod Wright to 12 points, well below his season average of 18. Coen said it was a team effort keeping Wright in check.
And for this group of Huskies, now with a three-game lead in the conference, it seems to be a different hero stepping up every night.
“I said it (during) shoot-around today – ‘someone is going to come into the game tonight and really help us win,’” said Coen. “And tonight it was Dinko’s turn.”
The Huskies host Georgia State on Wednesday night.