The Boston University men’s basketball team’s Thanksgiving break ended when it fell to George Mason University 48–45 on a buzzer beater Saturday night in Fairfax, Va.
The Terriers (0–5) entered the game looking for their first win of the season against a George Mason team (4–2) that is currently tied with Northeastern University for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Prior to the game, BU coach Joe Jones stressed playing strong team defense. He told his team that if it held the strong George Mason team to 60 points, the Terriers would have a chance to pull out their first win of the season.
The Terriers played tremendous defense, holding the Patriots to their lowest point total of the season.
“We hadn’t been defending very well, but we really did a great job [against George Mason],” Jones said. “To hold that team under 40 percent on their floor was huge for us — a major step in the right direction.
“We played really hard and then it came down to the last few possessions and we didn’t do a great job putting the game away.”
Throughout the game, BU stayed with the Patriots.
They never allowed George Mason to take a significant lead. The game saw 12 lead changes, six for each team, and was tied 21–21 at the half.
Each team came out firing to start the second half, but neither team allowed the other to get a lead greater than four.
Junior forward Dom Morris gave the Terriers their largest lead of the night with a layup with 3:32 remaining in the second half that put BU ahead, 45–39.
However, thanks to baskets from George Mason forward Marko Gujanicic and guard Bryon Allen, and a pair of missed 3-pointers from BU, the Patriots were able to come back.
With the game tied at 45 apiece, the Terriers took the ball down the court looking for the lead and a potential game-winning shot. After losing the ball, freshman guard Maurice Watson Jr. stepped out of bounds, giving the ball to George Mason and giving them an opportunity to win the game.
Allen held the ball for the last shot, and with only a few seconds left he drove to the hoop, absorbed contact from BU junior forward Travis Robinson, and sunk a layup with 0.2 seconds left in regulation. Allen added a free throw after the Robinson foul to give the Patriots the 48–45 win. It was BU’s third loss of the season on the last possession.
“It’s come down to three possessions and we would be 3–2 if we were able to execute,” Jones said. “In three games — the Rutgers game, the Northeastern game and this game — if we could’ve executed, those are three tremendous wins.”
Watson and junior guard DJ Irving, who have controlled the BU offense for most of the season, disappeared against the Patriots. Watson struggled, shooting only 1–7 from the field and turning the ball over three times, the most critical of which came on the last possession.
Irving went 1–12 from the field with only five points in 33 minutes. However, the guards understood it was a poor shooting performance for them, so they distributed the ball to other Terriers.
Robinson had a career-high 17 points and three steals while Morris had his third career double-double, registering 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did a great job of sharing the ball,” Jones said. “We got open shots, especially in the first half, but we just didn’t make them. We got good looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. Sometimes that happens.”
Even though the Terriers are still winless, Jones said he is proud of the way his team has played and he is confident that it has what it takes to get its first win and grow from there.
“To be on the road four of your first five games and to be that close in that many games is certainly a positive,” Jones said. “We have put ourselves in a situation where we can now go out and win games.
“I feel very confidently that we’ve learned from mistakes we’ve had in the past and that now we are ready to win. I am much more positive about this group. I think we are right there.”