Men’s Basketball: Terriers ‘out-toughed’ by Army in 73-63 loss

Jonas Harper attempts a layup versus Binghamton University Dec. 4, 2021. The Terriers fell to Army West Point 73-63 on the road Thursday. JOE EACHUS/ WTBU SPORTS

By Mitch Fink 

It didn’t take long for Army men’s basketball (10-7, 4-1 PL) to establish an identity of relentless defense and energetic play in its 73-63 victory over Boston University (11-7, 2-3 PL) on Thursday evening in West Point, New York.

On BU’s first offensive possession of the game, the Black Knights played 30 seconds of tenacious perimeter defense and perfectly timed rotations, ultimately forcing the Terriers into a difficult contested three-point attempt at the end of the shot clock.

The possession represents much of what the Black Knights’ defense was able to do successfully against the Terriers — force BU to play at a fast pace and put up difficult looks.

BU head coach Joe Jones put it simply postgame: “We got out-toughed.”

“They played at a whole other level in terms of their energy and effort,” he added. “They just beat us in every aspect of the game.”

The Terriers finished the game shooting just 39.3% from the field, and 31% from behind the arc.

The Black Knights maintained a lead through much of the first half and took a seven-point advantage into the half, but BU hit timely shots to remain within reach.

Army finally began to pull away in the second period. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Jalen Rucker extended the Black Knights lead to 14 points five minutes into the second half.

The Terriers battled to keep the deficit around 10 points, but they were unable to put a run together to make the game truly close.

Fifth-year guard Javante McCoy drained a shot from long range to cut Army’s lead to eight points with 24 seconds left in the game, but it wasn’t enough for BU. The Black Knights coolly knocked down two pairs of free throws to ice the game and emerge with the victory.

After a hot start to the season, BU has found little success in conference play. The Terriers, now five games into their conference schedule, have now dropped three of their last four contests.

Although BU holds one of the highest overall records in the Patriot League, the Terriers have dropped into sixth place in the conference after their recent struggles.

McCoy led BU with a game-high 23 points and knocked down four three-pointers. The preseason Patriot League Player of the Year has drastically improved from long-range this season. McCoy is shooting 48% from three-point range on 4.4 attempts per game after shooting just 31% from distance last season.

Senior forward Walter Whyte pitched in 14 points and Fifth-year forward Sukhmail Mathon added 9 points and 11 rebounds, but the Terriers lacked production from other parts of their roster.

BU’s bench scored just eight points, while Army’s reserves combined to score 17.

“When the season started, we needed to find more bench production. That was a big point of contention, and we haven’t been able to do that,” Jones said. “In practice, we need to have guys step up and show that they deserve to play minutes.”

The Terriers will travel home to Case Gym for a rematch with Navy on Sunday afternoon. BU dropped its conference road opener to the Midshipmen, 83-71, in Annapolis on Jan. 4.

Jones called the matchup a “big game,” noting that the Terriers will need to rebound better and limit the scoring of Midshipmen standout John Carter to capture the victory.

“We just need to compete much harder in all facets of the game,” Jones said.