Men’s Basketball: Coach Joe Jones wins 200th game behind dominant second half vs. Bucknell

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

Cover Photo Credit: Stevie Potter

BU Head Coach Joe Jones won his 200th game with Boston University Men’s Basketball (13-16, 6-10 PL), defeating the Bucknell Bison (11-18, 4-12 PL) 77-61 at Case Gym after a 46-point second half performance.

Down four points at halftime, the Terriers made six 3-pointers and shot 57.1% from the field in the second half to outscore the Bison by 20 and secure Jones’ 200th win with the program.

“That [200 wins] just speaks more about the University supporting me for this long and the people that have supported us and been there for us,” Jones said. “And then our players and their families that took a chance to come and play for us.”

“I think it says a lot about those people more than it does about me,” Jones said.

Jones’ roster includes three graduate students who have spent at least five seasons with the program — Fletcher Tynen, Jonas Harper, and Walter Whyte — who led the way for the Terriers, each finishing as double-digit scorers and combining to contribute 42 total points.

“They could have had opportunities to move and they decided to come back,” Jones said. “They feel like people here care.”

Harper and Whyte were key contributors down the stretch of the second half, leading a Terrier run that reached 12-0 with 2:18 left to play. Harper kick-started that game-clinching run, making two 3-pointers in less than a minute to give the Terriers an eight point lead with under five minutes left.

A couple of minutes later, after a Whyte layup and another three, the Terriers’ lead had ballooned to 16 with 1:11 left.

“Any open shot, you just gotta think it’s going in,” Whyte said. “Whether we’re showing a great [3-point] percentage or not, you got to stick the open ones and shoot it with confidence.”

Whyte and Harper each credited their late-game heroics to the support from their teammates and coaches. The second of Harper’s two 3’s late in the second-half brought the entire Terrier bench to their feet, and after the ensuing timeout, the bench was fully emptied to meet Harper at mid-court.

“A special thing about this team is that we all want to see each other do really well,” Harper said. “We’re all really excited for [each other] and I think that carries on to how we play.”

The Terriers struggled to contain the Bison’s size in the paint to open the game — led by 7-foot-1 center Andre Screen (11 points) and forward Andre Timmerman (13 points) — conceding 14 points in the paint in the first 9:35 of the first half.

But, after a series of defensive adjustments, the Terriers didn’t allow another basket in the paint for the rest of the half and held Bucknell to 16 points in the paint over the rest of the game.

“We went zone [on defense] and that helped us. They weren’t able to get the ball inside as much,” Jones said. “We tried to blitz some ball screens and we double-teamed them inside a little bit, just to try to keep them off balance.”

Defensively, the importance of playing as a team was again emphasized by Whyte and Harper.

“Especially on the defensive side, if we’re really connected and cheering for each other, then we’re going to make stops in crunch time,” Harper said.

Off the bench, junior wing Anthony Morales was another critical piece to the Terriers’ win, routinely finding ways to get into the paint offensively in his 14 minutes on the floor, finishing with seven important points.

“Morales was terrific,” Jones said. “He really gave us a big boost and he probably should’ve played more than he did.”

After losing back-to-back heartbreakers on the road, the Terriers returned home and finally finished, taking their first lead of the game with 8:27 left in the second half and never looking back.

“Last game was, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, a pretty tough loss,” Harper said. “But I think that’s the luxury in this thing, you can focus on the next day and try to improve every day.”

“We’re starting to click right now and hopefully that transitions into the next game, and so on,” Harper said. 

With two games left in the regular season before the Patriot League tournament, including a trip to West Point to take on Army on Wednesday at 6 p.m. the Terriers are peaking at the right time.

“We’re starting to turn a corner,” Jones said. “Sometimes it doesn’t show in the win column, but we’re playing better.”

“We’re right there,” Jones said.