Men’s Basketball: Terriers hold on in rematch against American after excellent defensive performance

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

Miles Brewster recorded three steals and a critical late-game block in a 13-steal defensive performance from Boston University Men’s Basketball (12-14, 5-8 PL), who defeated the American University Eagles (15-9, 7-6 PL) 60-54 at Case Gymnasium in their second of two regular season meetings.

Exactly one month after their two-point loss to the Eagles at Bender Arena, the Terriers connected on four critical 3-pointers in the last six minutes to complete a defensive performance that forced 18 turnovers and allowed only 54 points, the lowest output for American all season.

“We got a lot of deflections when the ball did go inside [to the paint],” BU Head Coach Joe Jones said. “They killed us in the paint [in the last game], we did a much better job of protecting the paint.”

“[Defense] is everything, it’s everything,” Brewster said. “Just stopping their momentum when the game is close, it’s big, I mean, they say ‘defense wins championships,’ right?”

Brewster, who finished with 11 points and made three 3-pointers, was a force on defense throughout the game, recording three steals to lead an aggressive and productive defensive performance from the Terriers.

“Ball pressure and playing tough defense on the ball, it’s something that I’ve always prided myself on,” Brewster said. “At this point in my career, I’ve shown that I can do that.”

Brewster finished as one of three double-digit scorers for the Terriers; graduate guard Walter Whyte and senior forward Nevin Zink finished with 16 points and 11 points, respectively. In a game that lacked offensive rhythm on either side throughout, their consistent contribution was key.

“[Zink] has been through a lot, and now he’s kind of looking like the kid that we thought we would have,” Jones said. 

In the last six minutes of the second half, Whyte assisted two 3-pointers from the post on back-to-back possessions to kick start an 11-0 BU run over 4:37 of game time that would seal the game for the Terriers. Brewster was on the receiving end of one of those passes.

“When we throw it in, it’s not always for the guy who’s posting up to score, that’s the thing that [Jones] is constantly telling us,” Brewster said. “Walt and Nevin and Malcolm, they’re gonna attract attention and we as guards need to be ready to shoot.”

On the receiving end of the second of those two Whyte assists was senior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts, who returned to the floor from a two-game absence after suffering a concussion in the first half at Lehigh. Minutes after his first three assisted by Whyte, Brittain-Watts drained another from the corner to give the Terriers a five-point lead with 2:35 to play.

“First of all, Ethan is a competitor, he’s a guy that loves to compete,” Jones said. “He made some big plays tonight, two big threes, you love to have those guys on your team because he’s a competitor.”

The Terriers were consistent at the free throw line, too, shooting 15-17 (88.2%) from the stripe, a point of emphasis in Jones’ postgame press conference after a close loss at Lehigh three games ago.

Efficient free throw shooting combined with timely defensive plays down the stretch, including a Brewster block of 6-foot-9 Eagles forward Matt Rogers with just over two minutes to play, were critical for the Terriers as they came out on the right side of a tight affair for the second-straight game.

“The thing that has hurt us the most is that we haven’t gotten stops down the stretch of games,” Jones said. “All the other games, when they were close, like Lehigh, we just didn’t get any stops.”

For Jones, the Terriers’ formula for getting defensive stops at the end of games starts with playing hard.

“I tell the team all the time, I watch our games and I don’t see anything extraordinary that we do in terms of playing hard,” Jones said. “We talked about it and we challenged them to compete harder, and lately we’ve been able to get stops.”

After losing six of seven games in the Patriot League in a stretch that started with their Jan. 8 loss to American, the Terriers have now won their last two and are on their first winning streak in over a month. Next, it’s a trip to Lafayette with a chance to make it three straight on Saturday at 1 p.m.