By Mitch Fink
Boston University men’s basketball (11-6, 2-2 PL) got back on track on Monday night following two consecutive conference defeats, taking down Patriot League rival American (4-9, 0-2 PL) in a convincing 79-53 victory.
Fifth-year guard Javante McCoy led the Terriers with an efficient 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field, while fifth-year center Sukhmail Mathon recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Matt Rogers led the Eagles with 13 points.
Head coach Joe Jones said he was pleased with his team’s effort in the win.
“I thought our guys were focused,” Jones said postgame. “They tried to come out and play the way we asked them to play.”
BU led from the opening tip to the final buzzer in what was a complete performance against an undermanned American squad. Eagles head coach Mike Brennan and several players missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols.
American was forced into playing with an unusually tight rotation — four of the five starters for the Eagles recorded more than 30 minutes of playing time. Just one Terrier, McCoy, played for more than 30 minutes.
The Terriers opened the game by knocking down their first five shots and posting an 11-2 run and they maintained control. BU opened up a 15-point advantage midway through the first half and led by 13 at halftime after McCoy drilled a turnaround jumper as time expired.
American cut the deficit to eight early in the second half, but the Eagles’ efforts to retake the lead proved futile. Senior forward Walter Whyte hit a layup to push the Terriers’ lead back up to 15 midway through the second period, and a series of BU transition buckets late in the game extended the advantage even further.
Jones emphasized the importance of being able to “put a team away,” which he said is something the Terriers have struggled with thus far this season.
“We hadn’t put a team away in so long and we need to learn how to do that,” Jones said.
Mathon continued his hot stretch, recording his third consecutive game with at least 18 points. The center is having a career year and is now nearly averaging a double-double, with 14.4 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game.
Whyte scored 17 points for the Terriers, marking his best offensive performance since the do-it-all forward returned from injury. However, Jones noted that Whyte is “not even close to being what he’s supposed to be” when he is fully conditioned and recovered.
“I think today was a step in the right direction,” Jones said. “Hopefully soon he’ll be back to being the old Walter Whyte.”
The Terriers will look to keep the positive momentum rolling on Thursday when they travel to West Point, New York to take on Army at 6 p.m.