In a rollercoaster overtime thriller, the Boston University men’s basketball team defeated the conference-leading University at Albany, 85–80.
“It was a quality win,” said BU (10–10, 4–3 America East) coach Joe Jones. “A big win on the road. We have a lot of respect for that team and their style of play, but it was a great win for us — one of the best since we’ve been here.”
The University at Albany (16–5, 5–2 America East) entered as the highest-scoring team in the America East Conference. The Great Danes were also riding a four-game winning streak.
BU stayed with Albany for the first 10 minutes of the first half, preventing the Albany offense from getting started. Nine minutes into the frame, freshman guard Maurice Watson Jr. began draining shots for the Terriers.
The Terriers went on a 16–2 run in the middle of the first to build a nine-point lead over the Great Danes. Watson Jr. had a strong half, shooting 5-for-8 from the field while making all three shots he took from beyond the arc.
Coming into the game, Jones stressed the importance of defense against the prolific Albany offense. In the first half, the BU defense held Albany guards Mike Black and Jacob Iati to five and six points, respectively. The BU defense also forced 11 Albany turnovers in the opening frame.
“We defended really well,” Jones said. “In the first half we defended really well, holding them to only 29 percent shooting while turning it over a bunch. In the second half they really went after us, went inside on us and we struggled to guard that, but I was happy with our overall defensive effort.”
Albany stayed in the game with help from the perfect shooting of guard Jayson Guerrier, who went 4-for-4 from the field and matched Watson Jr.’s 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
At the end of the first half, the Terriers led the Great Danes by a score of 29–23.
Albany quickly retook the lead only 2:30 into the second half, going ahead 32–30. Thanks in part to 12 points from Albany forward Sam Rowley in the first 10 minutes of the second half, The Great Danes built a sizeable lead over the Terriers.
With 36 seconds remaining in the game, sophomore guard Malik Thomas hit a layup, pulling the Terriers within two points of their opponents. After a BU foul and a Watson Jr. turnover, Black hit two free throws to put Albany up, 63–57, with 15 seconds left. The game seemed to be lost for the Terriers, but then the implausible happened.
Junior guard D.J. Irving hit a 3-pointer for BU and then, after a Black turnover with just six seconds left in the game, he hit yet another trey with five seconds left, tying the game at 63 and sending the teams into a five-minute overtime period.
“It was an unbelievable sequence for us,” Jones said. “He made the first three, we called a timeout, and then he hit another three at the buzzer.”
Albany struck first in overtime, with a layup from guard Peter Hooley. But after a pair of free throws from junior co-captain Dom Morris and a 3-pointer by freshman guard John Papale, BU took the lead, 68–65. The team did not relinquish its lead for the rest of the period and defeated the Great Danes, 85–80.
Watson Jr. led the Terriers with 21 points and seven assists, while Irving added 20 points, including the two huge threes at the end of the second half. Papale provided a quiet 18 points.
Jones said, although it’s a win the team will relish, BU also needs to look ahead to its next game.
“We hope a win like this can give us some momentum,” he said. “We are going to enjoy this one on the way home tonight and then get back to work tomorrow. We have a big game against a very underrated team in [University of Maryland-Baltimore County] and we need to be ready to go.”