With strong 3-point shooting for much of the first half and trouble closing out the game with a lead late in the second half, it was a typical performance by the Boston University men’s basketball team against the University of Maine Tuesday night.
Ten minutes into the first half, BU (12–11, 6–4 America East) suddenly took off after playing a back-and-forth game for the first 10 minutes. Down by three with 9:39 left in the first half, freshman guard John Papale hit a 3-pointer that set the tone for the rest of the half.
From there, BU went on a 19–8 run that gave it an impressive 48–32 lead going into the locker room at halftime.
“I thought they got off to a great start in the first half,” said Maine (8–15, 3–7 America East) coach Ted Woodward. “We matched them pretty well and then they got a spurt with a couple of threes, and unfortunately we couldn’t match them in that sequence.”
In the first half, BU made 8-of-14 3-point attempts, while shooting 58.1 percent (18-for-31) from the field. Meanwhile, the Black Bears only shot 42.3 percent (11-for-26) and made none of their five 3-point attempts.
When the Terriers trotted back onto the court after halftime, they appeared to be ready to leave Case Gym, despite another 20 minutes of basketball yet to be played.
For some time, the Terriers have had plenty of trouble closing out games. The first of such instances came in their first game of the season against Northeastern University Nov. 9 when they lost on a last-second 3-pointer, falling 65–64.
They then lost, 81–79, to Rutgers University shortly before Thanksgiving, and yet another in Virginia against George Mason University, 48–45. Just a few weeks later, BU suffered another one-point loss, this time to Harvard University, 65–64.
Against Maine to start off conference play, BU was tied with three minutes remaining and failed to close out the game, eventually falling 63–58.
It seemed as if Tuesday had potential to be another instance of BU failing to close out a game. The second half began just as the first did, with back-and-forth play.
After a while, Maine was able to cut down what once was a 20-point BU lead to 11 points, with 3:42 remaining.
The Terriers lost focus, according to BU coach Joe Jones, allowing Maine to get back in the game and make the score much closer than what it could have been.
“We played a great first half, and then the first seven or eight minutes of the second half I was really pleased with our guys,” Jones said. “I thought we really could’ve extended our lead. It was really poor on our part in terms of our offense down the stretch.”
With about nine minutes remaining in the second half, when the Terriers had a comfortable 20-point lead, junior forward Dom Morris picked up a steal, but immediately turned the ball over. Luckily for BU, Maine was playing sloppily at the point and returned the ball to the Terriers one last time.
On the ensuing possession, freshman forward Nathan Dieudonne turned the ball over on a simple outlet pass and from there, Maine attempted to mount its comeback.
“We just lost our concentration and focus,” Morris said. “I don’t want to keep saying this, but we are a young team.”
Fortunately for BU, it had a large enough lead that it managed to come away with the victory, 79–72. But learning to close out games is a priority in practice for this BU squad in the upcoming weeks.