Northeastern’s first-half surge stood up and the Huskies held off fourth-seeded Drexel 90-81 in a CAA tournament quarterfinal at First Mariner Arena.

Scott Eatherton led a balanced offense with 23 points, as the Huskies (11-20) advanced to Sunday’s semifinals against No. 1 seed Delaware.

“I thought the big key for us was really controlling the backboards,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “We knew going into the game that was going to be a challenge.”

The Huskies had a 42-31 rebound advantage and ran crisp, efficient offense on the way to a double-figure lead that they maintained. After a slow start, they outscored Drexel 25-8 in a span of 10 1/2 minutes to open a 33-17 lead late in the first half.

“It was getting our players to relax and settle into the tournament,” Coen said. “I thought we started the game a little anxious. There weren’t many X-and-O adjustments.”

Northeastern’s lead fluctuated between 10 and 17 points much of the second half before fourth-seeded Drexel made a late push that closed the game within single digits. The Huskies made 23 of 31 free throws in the second half, many at the end of the game when Drexel fouled trying to catch up.

Chris Fouch kept the Dragons close, scoring 26 of his 30 points in the second half before fouling out, but the hole was too deep. The senior guard made 11 of 20 shots, while his teammates hit just 19 of 45.

Northeastern’s big lead was peculiar given that the teams played two close games in the regular season – a double-overtime Drexel win in Philly (93-89) and a two-point grinder of a Northeastern win (54-52) in Boston.

Drexel (16-14) lost in its tournament opener for the fifth time in the past seven years. The Dragons have won just four tournament games in 11 years and lost to a lower-seeded team eight times in that span.

Northeastern has won at least one tournament game in seven of nine years in the conference.