After losing to Harvard University Tuesday, the most recent in a string of buzzer-beater losses in the 2012-13 season, the Boston University men’s basketball team found a way to win in overtime, 69-62, against Quinnipiac University Sunday night.
The game started off poorly for the Terriers (4–6). They were shooting only 11.1 percent, going 1-for-9 from the field at the 11:56 mark. Quinnipiac (3–6), led by guard Zaid Hearst, was draining shots and building a lead.
However, BU was able to find its feet and went on a 10–2 run in the middle of the first half to take the lead, 15–13, over the Bobcats.
Although the score remained close throughout the remainder of the first half, both teams had their fair share of missed shots, turnovers and blown opportunities.
At the end of the first half the Bobcats lead the Terriers, 28–26.
BU, typically a strong 3-point shooting team, struggled from beyond the arc in the first half, going only 2-for-9. Additionally, BU got no production from freshman guard Maurice Watson Jr., who had zero points. He missed all five shots he took and totaled zero first-half assists.
“[Watson has] been very good for us as a freshman,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “It was probably his worst half all year to be honest with you. We told him at half time that he had to step it up and play better. I thought in the second half he came out and really played a much better half for us.”
Throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half, both teams continued to trade buckets. As soon as one team gained a small lead, the other responded with a big play of its own.
There were stretches during which the BU offense was lacking throughout the first half and at the beginning of the second half.
“There were times tonight when the offense just stopped,” Jones said. “I think we are so accustomed to [junior guard] DJ [Irving] doing so much for us offensively that we need to get the ball moving more side-to-side. Sometimes once he gets it we all just feel something magical is going to happen. We just need to do a better job of spreading it out and moving the ball.”
Although BU missed a significant number of shots, it was able to stay in the game thanks to a strong defensive showing. The Terrier defense was able to force turnovers, which helped create quality scoring opportunities.
While the Terriers were creating their scoring chances off turnovers, the Bobcats were able to control the glass, as they outrebounded the Terriers 43-36.
With the Terriers were up by one at 18:30 into the second half, freshman guard John Papale was able to hit a big three for BU. But Quinnipiac quickly responded with a three of its own and then another bucket to take the lead, 50–49, over the Terriers with 32.8 seconds remaining in the game.
BU left the ball in the hands of DJ Irving to gain and regain the lead, but he missed a layup with 12 seconds left. BU quickly fouled and forced guard Garvey Young to earn the points at the line for Quinnipiac. Young nailed both free throws and put the Bobcats up, 52–49.
“The last play I think our guys were really shook — like oh crap here we go again,” Jones said. “But I think the guys in the huddle did a great job of keeping everyone focused and keeping them believing. Then John [Papale] just hit a great shot.”
Papale responded to the pressure for BU, nailing a three to tie the game at 52 points apiece with six seconds remaining in regulation time.
BU did not allow Quinnipiac to win on a buzzer-beater. After a good defensive stand by the Terriers, the game went into overtime.
Feeding off the momentum from Papale’s game-tying shot, the Terriers were able to lead the entire overtime period and win the game, 69–62.
After being on the losing end of many close games this season, BU finally got a win when the game came down to the wire.
“We haven’t lost games because we’ve done something dumb,” Jones said. “I haven’t felt like we have choked in any of our last games. Like tonight, the games could have gone either way.”