Northeastern's David Walker made just two shots in Friday's semifinal victory over Belmont at the Great Alaska Shootout.
Fittingly, both shots came from behind the 3-point line in a game that featured some awesome long-range shooting at Sullivan Arena. Walker's second trey went in with just less than a minute remaining, giving Northeastern its first lead in the 74-71 win.
The win puts Northeastern (4-1) in Saturday's championship game at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of a late semifinal between Oral Roberts and Charlotte.
Belmont's Ian Clark and Northeastern's Joel Smith were the game's sharpest shooters Friday. Clark hit a tournament-record nine treys on his way to a game-high 29 points and Smith buried six 3-pointers to lead the Huskies with 26 points.
"For November, I thought that was outstanding basketball game," Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. "To see Joel and Ian Clark shoot the way they did, it was just an amazing performance by those young men."
Clark shined from the start capping a 19-4 run with three straight triples in the game's first six minutes. It wasn't just Clark's hot shooting that provided an advantage. Belmont (4-1) was in control of nearly every facet early on.
"Belmont just come out much more aggressive than we were," Coen said.
Turnovers were a problem early for Northeastern, Coen said. The Huskies finished with 13 to Belmont's six in the first half, but took advantage of a back-court violation by Belmont's Kerron Johnson in the first half's final minute.
The turnover helped the Huskies close the half on a 7-0 run and pull within 35-32 at the break.
Northeastern forged a 37-37 tie less than two minutes into the second half, but then Clark took over. He scored on five of the next seven Belmont possessions, hitting four treys, including one from at least five feet behind the 3-point line.
"Today was just one of those days, when I was making 'em," Clark said.
After Clark finished his little streak, the Bruins led 55-39, but Northeastern steadily clawed, ultimately looking like the sharper offensive team. When things were clicking for the Huskies, the ball was whipping around the court and leading to easy layups.
"I thought the best team won the game," Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. "They ran their stuff better, they defended better, they certainly rebounded better."
Northeastern won the rebound battle 32-25, gathering 15 offensive rebounds along the way. Zach Stahl finished with 13 points for the Huskies, Quincy Ford scored seven of his 11 points from the free-throw line and Reggie Spencer notched 10 points to go with five rebounds.
Blake Jenkins led Belmont on the boards, grabbing seven rebounds to go with 10 points. Trevor Noack added 11 points and six rebounds for the Bruins.
Clark, who broke the old record of eight 3-pointers set by St. Mary's Eric Schraeder in 1998, nailed his ninth 3-pointer with 34.2 seconds left. The shot pulled Belmont to within 72-71, but then he fouled out on the next play. Byrd told the team to immediately foul whoever got the ball and in hindsight said he probably should have pulled Clark from the game before the play.
"He did what he was supposed to," Byrd said of Clark.
Belmont is the only team at the Shootout to have reached the NCAA Tournament last season. Though Byrd thought Northeastern outplayed his team, he said the loss was still a disappointment.
"You get spotted 15 points and if you're a good team, you shouldn't lose the game," he said.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTHEASTERN (74) -- Banegas-Flores 0-4 2-2 2, Ford 2-6 7-9 11, Smith 8-14 4-4 26, Stahl 4-5 4-4 13, Spencer 5-8 0-0 10, Avenant 1-1 0-0 2, Pollard 0-3 0-0 0, Walker 2-5 0-2 6, Peck 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 24-48 17-21 74.
BELMONT (71) -- Jenkins 4-7 2-2 10, Johnson 4-11 0-1 8, Mann 3-9 0-0 8, Clark 10-13 0-0 29, Noack 4-13 2-4 11, Chamberlain 0-2 2-2 2, Bradshaw 0-0 0-0 0, Laidig 0-0 0-0 0, Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Baker 1-2 1-1 3. Totals 26-57 7-10 71.
Northeastern 32 42 -- 74
Belmont 35 36 -- 71
3-point goals -- NE 9-19 (Banegas-Flores 0-2, Ford 0-1, Smith 6-9, Stahl 1-1, Pollard 0-1, Walker 2-5), Belmont 12-21 (Johnson 0-1, Mann 2-5, Clark 9-11, Noack 1-2, Chamberlain 0-2). Rebounds -- NE 32 (Smith 6), Belmont 25 (Jenkins 7). Total fouls -- NE 15, Belmont 19. Fouled out -- Clark. Assists -- NE 16 (Smith 5), Belmont 16 (Mann 5). Turnovers -- NE 18 (2 with 4), Belmont 13 (Johnson 4). Steals -- NE 5 (Peck 2), Belmont 7 (Johnson 2). Blocked shots -- NE 5. Referees -- Spitznagel, Shields, Corson. A -- 4,699 (announced).