WASHINGTON — There are no certainties when it comes to conference tournament play throughout college basketball, though the Northeastern Huskies securing a spot in the CAA championship game is becoming close to one.
For the third season in a row, the sixth-seeded Huskies will have a chance to play for an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, that after a wire-to-wire 68-60 victory over No. 7 Elon in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on Monday night. First Team All-CAA selection Jordan Roland led all scorers with 21 points as the defending conference tournament champions become the fifth team in CAA history to play in the title game for three consecutive years.
Roland’s backcourt mate, Bolden Brace, scored 16 points and hit all three of his three-point attempts in the first half. The Huskies hit seven of 14 threes in the game’s first 20 minutes as they opened up a 20-point first half lead.
Elon, playing in its first-ever CAA semifinal, cut the lead down to seven on a couple of occasions late in the game, but back-to-back threes from Roland pushed the lead to 63-50 with 1:33 remaining to salt the game away.
Last season’s title game saw the Huskies take down top-seeded Hofstra, and a return appearance to the NCAAs will call for the Huskies to defeat a top-seeded Pride team once again. Hofstra returns to the title game after they stifled the offense of No. 5 seed Delaware in a 75-61 victory in the first semifinal game on Monday night.
The Pride’s offense was the story early, as it did not miss a shot in the game’s first five minutes; Hofstra made all four of its field goal attempts, each of the attempts from three, and hit all five free throws in that span.
Along with their hot offense, the Pride shut down the CAA’s third-leading scorer, Blue Hens junior guard Nate Darling, holding him to just 1-of-8 from the field and three points in the first half as Hofstra opened up a 12-point halftime lead at 40-28.
Eli Pemberton and Jalen Ray combined for 43 points for Hofstra, whose win sets up the first rematch of a CAA Tournament championship game since 1995. Pemberton scored a game-high 24 points and made five three-pointers, while Ray had 19 points and made all four of his threes.
Darling, along with forward Justyn Mutts, finished with 13 points to lead the Blue Hens.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday’s games, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 22 pictures in total.