The Boston University men’s basketball team could not have asked for a better home opener, defeating the University of Massachusetts-Lowell by a score of 91-65 Wednesday night at Case Gym.
The Terriers (2-0) opened on a tear with a 22-4 run to start the game and never looked back. Using the full-court press to generate early turnovers, BU made it look easy with uncontested layups.
“Coming into it, I expected it to be a pretty competitive game,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “I watched [Lowell] on film against [University of Michigan]. I think we were fortunate the press really helped get us going. But they shot a great percentage for the game, they got good shots, they took good ones, but I thought we were able to turn them over and get going.”
The press created early fast-break opportunities, but it was the Terriers’ half-court game that separated them from Lowell (0-2). The BU frontcourt led by senior forward Dom Morris dominated the low post early and often, outscoring Lowell 16-2 in the paint over the first six minutes.
“When Coach Jones got here, he wanted to try something new,” Morris said. “He always believed that I was a great player who was very skilled. I knew I was skilled, but I didn’t see what he saw in me. I can’t believe the way I am right now. I never thought I would be like this. The progress is still going. I’ve still got room to get better and do special things for this team.”
As the first half progressed, the Terriers never closed the floodgates, extending their lead to 39-14 by the midway point in the half. Their run was punctuated by junior forward Malik Thomas, who drove home a one-handed tomahawk slam off the behind-the-back dish from senior guard D.J. Irving, just one of his seven assists on the night.
The 64 first-half points scored Thursday set a school record for most points scored in the first half by a Terrier team. In the half, BU shot 64 percent from the field and received a big boost from their bench, thanks in large part to a combined 14 points from freshman guard Cedric Hankerson and senior forward Travis Robinson.
The second half began with sloppy play from the Terriers, who turned the ball over four times in the first six minutes of play. This complacency resulted in easy baskets for Lowell, who cut the lead to 21 points with 14:17remaining in the game.
However, that would be the closest the Riverhawks would get for the rest of the contest. BU calmed down and returned to the inside game that paced them in the first half. Both the 6-foot-7 Morris and sophomore forward Nathan Dieudonne began to crash the offensive boards, opening up looks outside for Watson, Hankerson and Robinson.
“I thought in the second half we were very sloppy,” Jones said. “We didn’t defend great, we didn’t run great offense, and I thought that had an effect. We kind of lost our focus and once you lose your focus, you’re out there running around with your head cut off. Could you play as well as you did in the first half, knowing that you’re up 30 points? There’s not a lot of teams that can do that, but we try to do it the best we could.”
Despite taking their foot off the gas pedal in the second half, the Terriers coasted to a 91-65 victory. Putting up arguably the best game of his four-year career, Morris accounted for 27 points and 10 boards in 26 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Watson also had a game to remember, posting 18 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
“We just feel like we still have this chip on our shoulder,” Watson said. “Especially from last year, when we couldn’t have a chance to make it to the [NCAA] Tournament. And now we’re the number one preseason, so we know we have this target on our backs. But we know that if we just stay consistent, no one’s really going to be able to stop us.”