The Boston University men’s basketball team dropped its second consecutive America East matchup after losing to Hartford University, 77–74, on Saturday afternoon
BU (6–9, 0–2 America East) was in control of the game, holding the lead at the end of the first half and keeping it for a majority of the second. Hartford (9–6, 2–0 America East) stuck around and was able to finish stronger than the Terriers to get the win.
“They finished strong and we didn’t,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “They made some plays offensively and we didn’t. I thought we got some good, makeable shots late, but we also turned it over twice late … It just came down to the team that made more plays late — they did and we didn’t.”
Defensively, BU started the game by forcing Hartford into nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes. The Terriers also had six steals in those 10 minutes, with junior guard DJ Irving leading the way with three. The tri-captain ended the first half with five steals.
Irving also controlled the Terriers’ offense in the first half, leading the team with 10 points along with three assists. Freshman guard John Papale had a strong first half as well as he scored seven points after going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
For the most part, the teams were evenly matched in the first half. BU, able to control the Hartford offense with its stiff defense and ability to force turnovers, got out to a quick lead and held it for a while.
About halfway through the first period, the Hartford shots began to fall. The Hawks climbed back into the game and stay with the Terriers for the remainder of the period thanks to strong play from sophomores Wes Cole and Nate Sikma. BU held a 38–32 advantage after the first 20 minutes, but both teams shot about 50 percent from the field.
Papale began the second half positively for the Terriers with seven quick points, but Hartford continued to hang around after Mark Nwakamma put his first-half woes behind him and began nailing shots. BU retained its slim lead over the Hawks for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, their lead vanished when Hartford guard Yolonzo Moore II hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 57. BU let Hartford stick close until the Hawks took advantage of a single opportunity. A turnover from freshman guard Maurice Watson Jr. led to a fast break layup for Nwakamma. The momentum had shifted and the Hawks were in control.
A Sikma 3-pointer at 18:34 of the second half gave the Hawks their largest lead of the night, 71–65. Irving did his best to keep the Terriers in the game with a late trey, but the Hawks’ solid free-throw shooting put the game away. The Terriers, after leading for a majority of the game, fell by a final score of 77–74.
“We didn’t chase down loose balls, and they outrebounded us,” Jones said. “The difference was that they chased down loose balls and they made plays late.”
Cole and Sikma had a huge impact for the Hawks and were primary reasons Hartford was able to win its second straight conference game. Cole, a bench player who is averaging 6.6 points per game on the season, ended the game with a season-high 22 points while Sikma, son of former-NBA All-Star Jack Sikma, ended the game with 19 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
The Terriers, especially on defense, played a strong first half. But after the first few minutes of the second half, they fell apart.
“We forced them into 19 turnovers and did a great job there,” Jones said. “But our rotations weren’t always great — that hurt us. We did a good job on Nwakamma. I know he had 13 points, but he also had eight turnovers. We just weren’t sharp on our rotations and their shooters were able to get open and make shots.”
Watson finished with a quiet 13 points while Papale tallied 14 points and shot 6-for-8 from the field. Irving ended the game with 17 points and six assists.