As the importance of each Patriot League game continues to grow, the Boston University men’s basketball team will rely on its seniors to take them deep into March.
The Terriers (15-8, 8-2 Patriot League) are coming off of another overtime contest, their second in a row. On this particular occasion, however, they could not withstand the late run of Lehigh University, falling 82-80 in a nail-biter Saturday afternoon.
Playing free basketball is nothing new for the Terriers, a team that has played a total of four overtime games so far this season. This season, 12 of BU’s 23 games played this season have been decided by six points or less. In these games, the Terriers hold an impressive 9-3 record.
Despite losing against the Mountain Hawks (12-11, 5-5 Patriot League), BU has demonstrated a knack for pulling away in close games. The leaders of this resilient bunch of Terriers are the seniors.
In a milestone moment, senior forward Dom Morris entered the 1,000-point club on the first Terrier possession of the game Saturday. Morris has been a fixture for BU throughout his career and a pillar for which BU coach Joe Jones can build around.
“He’s such a great kid and such a team guy,” Jones said. “It shows the diversity of his skill package that he’s got the ability to cross that milestone and score and rebound the way he does. He’s just a terrific talent.”
Going into the game, both teammates and coaches were aware of the benchmark milestone Morris was about to pass. Congratulated by his teammates during the ensuing TV timeout, Morris acknowledged his achievement by waving to the fans and soaking up the applause.
“The guys love him and they were all happy for him,” Jones said. “They were talking about it before the game.”
Coming off of a game against the U.S. Military Academy in which he shot just 19 percent from the field, Morris played with a vengeanceSaturday. His teammates continually fed him the ball down low and let him go to work on the post, resulting in an efficient 7-for-14 day from the field. Morris totaled 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks on the night. He even went for two assists and a steal, a true mark of the versatility he brings to the team.
“He never gets too high or too low,” Jones said. “He handles things extremely well.”
His classmate, guard D.J. Irving, has also turned it up a notch of late, living up to his Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year potential. In his last two games, Irving is averaging 23.5 points per game, including a 25-point effort against the Mountain Hawks.
Irving, who has battled an ankle injury, appears to have finally reached full health, which has shown in his efficiency. For much of the season, Irving’s field goal percentage sat under 38 percent. In the last two games, however, he has brought it up to above 40 with games of 50 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
One of the most underrated aspects of Irving’s game is his ability to drive to the basket. Not only does this give him the opportunity to create for himself, it also allows him to find open looks for teammates. He did both on Saturday, earning two 3-point play opportunities on cuts to the basket and dishing out five assists.
“He played great,” Jones said about the guard. “He was terrific from the start of the game. He played like a true warrior and I thought he did a great job.”
With Irving healthy and Morris returning to form, the Terriers will prove a difficult team to beat down the stretch. As a mid-major contender, BU represents the traditional dark horse team with the potential to make some noise in in the postseason.
“I’ve said it before,” Jones said, “but we will go as far as our seniors can take us this season.”