Men’s Basketball: Terriers End Regular Season with Gutsy Win over Lehigh
By Charlie DeMatteo
Cover Photo Credit: Stevie Potter
Boston University Men’s Basketball (15-16, 8-10 PL) won their third consecutive game on Saturday at Case Gym in Boston with a 59-56 victory over Lehigh University (16-13, 11-7 PL).
In a game that saw barely anything separate the two teams, BU was able to maintain their composure in a packed Case Gymnasium and edge out the win over the Mountain Hawks.
“Obviously it was a heated game with a playoff atmosphere,” BU Head Coach Joe Jones said. “Overall, I was really happy [with dealing with the atmosphere], but I think we can play a lot better.”
A tight first half saw both teams executing well on the offensive end. 10 minutes into the game, BU was shooting the ball at 60% from the field and was creating high-percentage looks on offense.
Senior forward Nevin Zink went down after a hit just a few minutes into the game, but Jones was pleased with how sophomore Malcolm Chimezie and freshman Otto Landrum stepped up in his place.
“Malcolm played really well, especially in the first half he was getting every rebound,” Jones said. “Otto, as the year has gone on, has improved, and he’s got a bright future if he continues to work.”
Of Lehigh’s 28 first-half points, 22 were collectively scored by sophomore guard Keith Higgins Jr., senior guard Evan Taylor and sophomore guard Tyler Whitney-Sidney. Lehigh’s three leading scorers all year long led them again against the Terriers, and Jones understood what was needed to keep them quiet.
“We just wanted to make it hard for them,” Jones said. “We didn’t want them to score the way they are accustomed to scoring.”
Whitney-Sydney finished with 14, Higgins Jr. added 13, and Taylor had 10 of his own.
Graduate wing Walter Whyte led all scorers with 19 points, but was tasked with guarding Lehigh’s three leading players during the game.
“They have three guys that can really go,” Whyte said. “That was a big key, for those three guys we had to limit their production.”
An 8-0 run capped off by a couple 3-pointers by senior guard Miles Brewster and a jumper by Whyte to end the first half gave BU a 30-28 advantage heading into the break. Brewster finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
BU started the second half as they ended the first, with a 3-pointer from graduate guard Jonas Harper capping off a 7-0 run. Harper was one of nine seniors/graduates being honored at BU’s Senior Day.
“What a wonderful group of guys we’ve had,” Jones said. “I feel really fortunate to go into practice everyday with this group.”
While BU seemed to have pulled away from Lehigh after a Whyte 3-pointer put them up nine, a 10-0 run by Lehigh saw the Terriers go down one with 7:11 to play.
With tensions rising in the gym after senior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts was handed a double technical and ejected from the game, Brewster stepped up. Driving to the basket past multiple River Hawk defenders, Brewster fought through contact and finished for an And-1 as Case Gym erupted.
“The atmosphere was so fun,” Brewster said. “Every time I was catching the ball, I was trying to be aggressive.”
With BU up one with 48 seconds to play, Lehigh grabbed a defensive rebound and tried to push quickly before Brewster made an acrobatic steal at half-court. Brewster was quickly fouled and Case Gym went bananas.
“I remember when I caught the steal at the end of the game, I know I shouldn’t be thinking about it but I saw Case Gym just erupted,” Brewster said. “That’s what you live for as a basketball player.”
Just when it looked like BU was out of the woods after a pair of Brewster free throws put them up four, a 3 from Lehigh junior guard Jalin Sinclair quieted Case Gym with just 4.3 seconds left on the clock.
Forced to foul, Lehigh sent Whyte to the line. Whyte knocked down both free throws to give BU the win.
“It’s been a long journey,” Whyte said. “Coach Jones gave me an opportunity and I ran with it. I love him, and we’re going until the end. We’re going to make this run.”
Whyte and company will start their Patriot League Tournament at home at 7 p.m. on Thursday, after earning a first-round bye.