The Boston University men’s basketball team will travel to Washington, D.C., to face George Washington University Wednesday night. BU is looking to regain its momentum after suffering a close defeat at the hands of Harvard University this past Saturday.
The Terriers (6-3) won their previous four games before their 79-68 defeat to the Crimson (9-1) at home. BU faces another team with just one loss on the season in the Colonials (8-1), who have won three games in a row.
The loss against Harvard was a letdown for the Terriers, especially after their miraculous comeback in the final minute of action.
BU trailed the Crimson by seven points with only 50 seconds remaining in regulation, but it clawed itself within two on two clutch 3-point field goals from sophomore guard John Papale. Then, with 13 seconds on the clock, sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr. converted a driving layup that tied the score and sent the contest into overtime.
The extra period became a tale of free-throw shooting. Harvard was eventually able to pull away, shooting 11-for-12 from the line, whereas BU only got to the line once and missed both of its attempts.
Watson again proved to be a leader for the Terriers on both sides of the floor, shooting 7-of-12 from the floor for 14 points and delivering eight assists in addition to picking up four steals.
His free-throw shooting, however, put a dent in BU’s ability to keep up with Crimson. The guard missed all four of his shots from the line, including the pair in overtime that could have brought the Terriers within two points.
“I was proud of them, I thought we really competed,” said BU coach Joe Jones, commenting on the game. “That’s the thing I was the most pleased with. Anytime your team competes the way that we competed in that game, you have to be happy.
“I thought we had some things we didn’t do well, we turned it over five more times than we normally do, and that really cost us. We missed foul shots that really cost us as well. In terms of playing hard and competing for 40 minutes, I thought we did a really good job of that.”
The Colonials’ last game was a 77-75 victory over the University of Maryland. Senior Maurice Creek turned in an all-around great shooting performance for GWU that amounted to a game-high 25 points, including the game-winning shot with just a second left to play.
Creek shot 6-for-11 from the floor, which included three 3-pointers, and delivered a steady 10-for-12 performance from the free-throw line.
George Washington was strong defensively in the contest, holding the Terrapins (6-4) to a .391 field-goal percentage.
The Terriers and Colonials met in the 2012-13 season in Boston, where George Washington was victorious by a dominating score of 72-59.
Although GWU blew out BU in the first period, the Terriers were only outscored by one point in the second half. BU never truly threatened the Colonials, however, and they closed the gap to fewer than eight points.
This year’s encounter, Jones said, will be a much different game.
“They’re a much better team,” Jones said. “They might be the most improved team that I’ve seen from last year that we’ve played so far. They were not nearly as good last year at this time, so this is a whole different game.
“You can’t even think about what happened last year. Both teams are different. This will be a huge test.”
The Colonials will look to Creek to continue to provide energy on offense, as he leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game. Guard Joe McDonald may also be a factor tonight, considering the impressive 21 points and seven rebounds that he tallied against BU last season.
McDonald is also the current assists leader for GWU, distributing five dimes per game.
For the Terriers, the expectations again fall on Watson, the team’s leader in scoring, assists and steals.
While Jones respects Watson’s role as a leader, he also appreciates his team for its balance.
“[Watson] naturally has leadership qualities,” Jones said. “But what’s great for our team is that we have three captains that provide great leadership.”
One of those captains, Morris, has also been a consistent contributor for the team. The senior leads the team with 7.7 rebounds per game as well as with a .597 field goal percentage. Morris has provided toughness to team that has missed multiple big men this season due to injuries.
By Jones’ measure, the Terriers will need that toughness against GWU.
“This might be the toughest team in terms of physicality,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a great test for us.”