Featured image by Jacob Ireland
By Brendan Galvin
A game ago, the Boston University men’s basketball team was riding high into Case Gym, ready for a matchup with conference powerhouse Colgate.
After late-game heroics from senior Miles Brewster in their prior game against Lehigh, things were looking up for the young Terrier team.
Then, it all came crashing down to earth.
Colgate went on a late 11-0 run, and the Terriers lost, 74-64; a defeating loss for a team looking to string together a few wins and build momentum late in the season.
The outlook was bleak for a team sitting tied for fourth in the Patriot League, but only one game from the conference standings basement.
But on Saturday afternoon, the Terriers (10-15, 5-7 Patriot League) answered with a resounding 77-62 win on the road over Bucknell (10-15, 7-5 PL).
Every time the Terriers have seemed to get it together, they’ve lost it, following eight of their nine wins with losses.
On the other hand, every time the team has struggled, they’ve answered in a positive way, even if it doesn’t end in a win. After a second-half collapse against Army on Jan. 24, they responded with a win against then-conference leader Lafayette on the road.
On Saturday, the team answered their loss on Wednesday with an impressive shooting and defensive effort to take down Bucknell.
Entering the game, the Terriers were shooting just over 40 percent from the field. On Saturday, they shot 52.8 percent, also connecting on nine of 21 attempts from deep— a solid 43 percent.
A large part of the offensive attack came from freshman guard Kyrone Alexander, who scored a career-high 19 points, also totaling three rebounds and six assists.
“He did a little bit of everything tonight, those are things he’s capable of doing,” BU head coach Joe Jones said.
Jones was proud of his guys for their all-around effort, but especially their effort to move the ball and find open shots.
“Our guys did a good job of understanding what we need to do to win…we made some shots and that’s always a positive, 22 assists on 28 made baskets, that’s pretty impressive,” Jones said.
In the two teams’ first matchup on Jan. 17 in Boston, Bucknell torched the Terriers in a wire-to-wire win. Senior guard Jack Forrest scored 26 points for the Bison, but the story of that game was the poor shooting from BU.
The team shot just over 35 percent from the field and 23 percent from deep. Abysmal.
On Saturday, the outcome was much different.
The Terriers scored just 25 points in the second half, but they did hold a one-point lead going into the break.
However, in the second half, the team exploded offensively, scoring 52 points and shooting over 66 percent from the field. An unreal reversal from their first meeting.
“We were able to get a lot of shots off the press, we got some wide open shots, I thought that helped us,” Jones said.
“I thought our guys just did a great job of sharing the ball within their zone, the first time around we really struggled against their zone. This time, we did a much better job.”
In addition to Alexander, the Terriers had three other scorers in double figures, a rare occurrence this season for a team still trying to solidify their offensive attack.
Sophomore forward Otto Landrum scored 14, senior guard Miles Brewster had 13, and sophomore forward Nico Nobili had 11.
“I think we have enough where we could get four guys in double figures, if we can get the right shots,” Jones said. “Tonight we were able to do that.”
While it has been a repetitive theme for the Terriers all season long, their next game will be the biggest yet.
The question of whether or not they can string together a few wins, put together a win streak, and climb their way up the Patriot League standings will be answered within the next few weeks.
“I think we’re playing better basketball, like against Colgate we played well. We just didn’t play great down the stretch of that game,” Jones said. “We lost to Army, but I thought we played pretty well, we just didn’t make shots.”
While this team is still dangerous on the road, a couple wins late in the season can be the difference between playing the entire Patriot League playoffs away from home, or playing the first or even second round in front of their home fans.
A loss from Navy on Saturday afternoon and a potential loss from Lehigh against Lafayette in the evening could put the Terriers a game or two ahead against the half of the conference in a logjam standings-wise.
It is way too early to discuss standings and seedings, and Jones is excited to see what this team has in store down the stretch.
“There’s a lot of basketball to be played, so I think there’s just a lot at stake and we have to take advantage of every opportunity,” he said.
“We have to put ourselves in a position to get ready for the Patriot League Tournament.”
BU will once again look to build on a win next week, this time against Army West Point.
With just six games to go in the regular season, the Terriers need to take a step in the right direction.
“I think we could be a tough out in three weeks,” Jones said.
“That’s the thing, we’re playing better as the year’s going on, and that’s what you want.”