Going into Wednesday night, the Boston University men’s basketball team was on the verge of doing something that the program has not seen in almost 20 years. A win would have meant a 7-0 to start the conference schedule, something that has not been done since the 1996-97 season.
But against American University, the Terriers (13-7, 6-1 Patriot League) were unable to do so, falling to the Eagles (11-7, 7-0 Patriot League) by a score of 86-56, their worst margin of defeat this season.
Things looked promising early, as the Terriers were able to jump out to an early 13-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr., got things going, scoring four quick points, while dishing out an assist.
“Obviously, we started the game really well,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “And then the rest of the half and the rest of the game [American] made shots. Everything was going in.”
Despite the great start for BU, the Eagles did not let the deficit slow them down. In the ensuing minutes, American found a rhythm of its own, scoring 12 straight points to pull ahead of the Terriers.
With 11:38 remaining in the first half, a timeout was called, giving Jones some time to calm his team down and try to regain momentum.
About a minute later, with 10:15 left on the clock, a jump shot from senior forward Dom Morris gave the Terriers the lead, although it was the last time the Terriers would hold an advantage for the remainder of the game.
Unfortunately for BU, the Eagles began to hit their stride from beyond the arc, hitting four 3-point shots in the final seven minutes of the half.
During that span where American continued to drain deep shots, the Eagles went on a 19-10 run. Even with a buzzer-beating trey ball from sophomore guard John Papale, the Terriers found themselves trailing by 10 points at the half at 37-27.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Terriers continued to miss shots while the Eagles drove the ball inside to increase their growing lead.
BU struggled and did not make its first field goal in the second half until just about four minutes into the second frame. By the time this shot went in, the Eagles had already increased their lead to 13 points, leading 44-31.
Nearly two minutes later, Jones called a timeout to strategize a way to get his team back in the game with 15:49 left in the contest.
After the timeout, a pair of free-throw makes by sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr., and a 3-pointer from senior forward Travis Robinson got the Terriers to within 10 points.
While these chances seemed promising, the Eagle full-court press and five consistent shooters on the floor allowed American to control the tempo for the rest of the game.
“In the second half we were trying to pressure them, and we’re really not a pressure team, but we tried to pressure them,” Jones said. “I thought we got spread out, lost our principles and the game got away from us while they continued to score and we couldn’t get any momentum going.”
Facing the rising deficit, the Terriers lacked quality passing and ball movement, resulting in only seven assists during the game. On the other end, the Eagles had 22 assists as they moved the ball around the court searching for the open look.
In the final 14 minutes, the Terriers could not find a way to shut down the American offense and they watched the Eagles take command of the scoreboard and eventually the outcome of the game.
By the end of the evening, the Eagles shot a stunning 71 percent from the field and an even more impressive 79 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, going 11-of-14. Meanwhile, the Terrier offense had a lackluster performance, shooting 32 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep range.
“My hat goes off to [American],” Jones said. “They executed really well and then they were able to get easy baskets at times as well. I thought they really ran their offense well and we broke down defensively.”