It was a difficult start to the season for the Boston University men’s basketball team, losing a nine-point halftime lead with the final dagger coming in the form of a game winning 3-pointer for Northeastern University guard Demetrius Pollard.
The tempo of the first half was fast-paced and frenzied with both teams consistently exchanging baskets. Both BU and Northeastern turned the ball over quite a few times as well. Toward the end of the half BU began pulling away and entered halftime with a nine-point lead, 35–26.
At the beginning of the second half Northeastern came out firing and cut the lead to one. After Northeastern made its comeback, BU got into foul trouble most notably at the 14-minute mark in the second half when BU committed four fouls in a span of 33 seconds. Being a young, inexperienced team, BU started straying away from their defensive fundamentals.
“All of our defensive principles went out the window in the second half to be honest with you,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “I think having a big lead like that in the first half our guys felt a little loose, felt pretty good and they came out in the second half expecting it to keep rolling our way. But we learned a valuable lesson that it doesn’t always happen that way.”
In the final minutes there were a plethora of lead changes and BU led 64–62 going into the last possession. With 10.7 seconds left in the game Northeastern drew up a play that allowed Pollard to get open and he launched the shot with two seconds left. The shot fell. Northeastern won. The fans stormed the court. Just like that the freshmen for BU had their first taste of college basketball, and it came in the form of a gut-wrenching loss.
After the game Jones stressed that, regardless of the score and the result of the game, he was proud of the effort and intensity of the team. Additionally, Jones mentioned how each experience is a new one for this young team.
The Terriers have no seniors on scholarship, three junior captains and a multitude of freshman and sophomore contributors.
For BU, freshman forward Nathan Dieudonne, freshman guard Maurice Watson Jr., freshman guard John Papale and freshman forward Justin Alston were all playing in their first collegiate games.
In front of a large crowd of 3,242, the freshman players began their collegiate careers in an energized environment that had the relentless Northeastern student section only feet from the court. It was a test for the freshman to see if they could stand the chaotic environment and play their game.
Watson, ranked 92nd in his class in ESPN’s Top 100 recruits for college basketball, ran the BU offense for most of the game. Watson played 23 minutes registering four assists and six points. Early on in the game Watson struggled on offense with a few bad passes and difficultly reading the Northeastern defense.
“The size and length of players right now are going to hurt [Watson] a little bit,” Jones said. “It’s hard to duplicate in practice because we are not so big and athletic and long. I thought the size of the zone and him not being able to look over the zone was an issue.
“Obviously, this early in the year you are not as good at some things that you want to do, especially offensively. We just have to keep getting better.”
Dieudonne played 18 minutes and was a force on the boards, pulling down nine rebounds. He also added seven points.
Both Dieudonne and Watson started the game for the Terriers.
Coming off the bench, Papale hit two 3-pointers in 20 minutes. Alston also saw some time off the bench and pulled down one rebound for the Terriers.
“It’s a young group,” said Jones. “With them you have to keep them upbeat and positive, that’s the big thing. We have some talent, but we are just a young team.”