Men’s Basketball: Terriers lose overtime heartbreaker to Army in Patriot League Quarterfinals

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

Cover Photo Credit: Jacob Ireland

Boston University Men’s Basketball (15-16, 8-10 PL) couldn’t outlast Jalen Rucker and the Army West Point Black Knights (16-15, 10-8 PL), falling 71-69 in overtime of the Patriot League Quarterfinals to end their 2022-23 season.

With 25 seconds left in regulation, graduate wing Walter Whyte couldn’t secure the rebound off a missed Army 3-pointer, and Rucker was there to drain an open second-chance deep ball to tie the game at 59. Minutes later, Rucker’s layup with 1:03 left in overtime gave the Black Knights their first lead in almost 20 minutes.

Jonas Harper’s missed hook shot with 30 seconds left and missed corner 3-pointer with 10 seconds left both would’ve re-tied the game in overtime, but Rucker’s 32-point performance, including every Army point in the extra-period, was enough to send the Terriers home.

“We had it at the end [of regulation], we just gotta get a rebound,” BU Head Coach Joe Jones said. “Then in overtime, they just made more a few more plays than we did.”

“We had our chances,” Jones said.

Coleton Benson kick-started the Black Knights’ fast start, scoring nine points on the first three possessions of the game and finishing the first half with 16 points. But the Terriers stood firm, silencing Benson in the second half and overtime. BU allowed just one 3-pointer in the game’s final 25 minutes.

“The second half became a defensive battle and that was our kind of game,” Jones said. “We just had to get one last stop and we couldn’t do it.”

Rucker’s individual brilliance kept the Black Knights in the game down the stretch of regulation, before his 12-point explosion in overtime put the Terriers away once and for all. His 32 points were three shy of a career-high.

“[Rucker] is an incredible player,” Jones said. “When the ball found him [on his game-tying three in regulation], I knew it was going in.”

“He’s one of the best we’ve had in the [Patriot League] since I’ve been in the league,” Jones said.

Whyte and Harper, in what was their last game at BU, combined for 31 points on 13-for-32 shooting. Whyte’s 3-pointer with 3:01 left and Harper’s acrobatic layup with 2:22 left in the second half both gave the Terriers a seven-point lead. After Rucker and the Black Knights stayed alive in regulation, neither graduate student could find the same magic in overtime.

“We were trying to get Walt the ball [in overtime] and they were doubling him,” Jones said. “Then we had a couple of good looks and we missed them.”

Along with Whyte and Harper, graduate guard Fletcher Tynen played his last game as a Terrier, scoring 11 points. Each member of BU’s graduate trio has spent at least five seasons with the program, using their extra year of eligibility as a result of COVID-19 to run it back with Jones one last time in 2022-23. 

Jones, normally intensely critical in his postgame press conferences, couldn’t keep a smile off his face after the Terriers’ season-ending loss.

“Fletch, Jonas, Walt, those guys gave us a chance to get into this game and have a chance to get to the semifinals,” Jones said. “[I’m] emotional right now, especially with guys that you’ve coached for so long and have been such a big part of your life.”

Along with the three graduates, six Terriers played their last game in red and white, including guard Ethan Brittain-Watts and forward Nevin Zink, both regular contributors for BU.

“This group means so much to me,” Jones said. “Just the way the older guys conducted themselves, they never got down, they never stopped believing, they never stopped listening.”

“The young guys got a chance to see [from the older players] how you conduct yourself as a basketball player here at BU, those are valuable lessons,” Jones said. “That’s the thing I’m most proud of.”

“We could win a championship one day because of the way that Jonas and Walt and Fletcher and Nevin handled themselves this year,” Jones said.

With their win, Army will look to upset two-time defending Patriot League Champions Colgate in the Semifinals on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Hamilton, New York.