ST. THOMAS — No one counted on Northeastern to be a title contender when the Paradise Jam field was announced earlier this year.

Yet that’s just where the Huskies find themselves after beating Southern Illinois 59-47 on Sunday night in the Paradise Jam’s second semifinal at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.

Shaquille Walters scored 20 points for Northeastern (3-2), with two others finishing with double-doubles — Chris Doherty had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Nikola Djogo added 11 points and 10 rebounds — as the Huskies won their third straight to move above .500 for the first time this season.

Lance Jones had a game-high 21 points for the Salukis (2-2), with Ben Coupet Jr. adding 10 points as Southern Illinois saw a two-game winning streak end.

Turning point

At first, Northeastern looked to be in control of Sunday’s semifinal, opening with an 11-2 run and appearing to have Southern Illinois’ number.

Then, through a combination of poor shooting and turnovers, the Salukis worked their way back into contention. They closed the half with seven unanswered points, capped by Coupet’s free throw with seven seconds left, to tie the half at 20-all.

The sides kept things close in the second half, with Southern Illinois last tying the game at 35-35 on Marcus Domask’s jumper with 9:07 remaining. But Djogo drove for a layup 33 seconds later to put Northeastern ahead to stay, kicking off a 24-12 run to close out the game.

The Huskies took their biggest lead during the run — 58-45 —– on Walters’ free throw with 30 seconds remaining.

Key players

Shaquille Walters, Northeastern: The senior guard had his second straight 20-point game for the Huskies. He made 7 of 10 from the field (including 1 of 3 3-pointers) and 5 of 6 free throws. He came close to a double-double with nine rebounds.

Lance Jones, Southern Illinois: The junior guard nearly carried the Salukis to the final with his third 20-point game this season. But he didn’t shoot all that well — 8 of 19 from the field, including 0 for 6 on 3-pointers, and 5 for 6 on free throws — before fouling out late in the second half.


• Neither team were very effective shooting the ball in the first half. While Northeastern made 8 of 20 from the field (40%), Southern Illinois shot just 7 for 28 (25%). They were even worse on 3-pointers – the Huskies made just 1 for 9 (11.1%), the Salukis 1 of 8 (12.5%).

• Northeastern finished the game making 21 of 43 from the field (48.8%), but only 2 for 12 on 3-pointers (16.7%) — the Huskies’ second-lowest game of the season. Southern Illinois was even worse — 15 of 54 (29.6%) from the field, and 3 for 18 on 3-pointers (16.7%).

• The double-doubles from Doherty and Djogo were a big reason Northeastern finished with a 39-26 rebounding advantage over Southern Illinois. However, the Salukis had more offensive rebounds (seven) than the Huskies (four), but Northeastern had more second-chance points (5-3).

Up next

Northeastern next faces undefeated Colorado State for the Paradise Jam championship at 9 p.m. today at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center. Meanwhile, Southern Illinois will play 2016 Paradise Jam champ Creighton in the third-place game at 6:45 p.m. today.