The Boston University men’s basketball team is one in need of a quality win. After starting Patriot League play with a 6-0 record, the Terriers have dropped two of their last four games in the conference portion of their schedule.
Wednesday night, the Terriers (15-8, 8-2 Patriot League) will travel down to Annapolis, Md., for their second and final game against the U.S. Naval Academy this season. On Jan. 7, the two teams faced off for the first time at Agganis Arena. The Terriers controlled the ball throughout the game, defeating the Midshipmen (7-14, 2-8 Patriot League) 55-32.
The cause for the Terriers’ struggles in the past few games has been due to lackluster play in the second half of games. Ever since a disappointing 86-56 loss at American University nearly two weeks ago, BU has looked like a different team than the one who dominated conference play in early January.
Days after the 30-point shellacking, the Terriers went on the road to take on Bucknell University. After holding a 52-32 lead with 8:11 left in the second half, the Terriers managed to win the game by just three points.
BU encountered a similar situation its next game against the U.S. Military Academy, when the Terriers held a 22-point lead with 17:50 left in regulation. Somehow, the Terriers found themselves having to battle it out in overtime in order to come out victorious.
This Saturday, the Terriers surpassed the tipping point, blowing another lead to Lehigh University. This time, however, BU would not get so lucky in overtime, falling by a score of 82-80 on their home court.
“I think we need to focus in on what we need to do and not let it become a mental thing,” said BU coach Joe Jones on the second-half issues.
This season Midshipmen have been along at the bottom of the Patriot League standings this season and sit in ninth place, one spot ahead of Lafayette University. Navy continues to have issues, and has lost its last five contests.
Despite the problems this season, Navy proved to be a solid opponent defensively against the Terriers last time out. When the Midshipmen came up to Commonwealth Avenue for the first time last month, they became the first and only team thus far to hold this BU team to under 60 points at home.
Against Navy, BU shot 38.5 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond 3-point the arc. Even with the struggles against American (14-7, 10-0 Patriot League), the game against Navy constituted BU’s worst game shooting-wise this season.
“I thought they did a great job against us,” Jones said about Navy’s previous play against BU. “They slowed the tempo of the game down, neither team played particularly well and I think we held onto the ball too long.”
With this final stretch upon them, the Terriers will look to put the ball in the hands of their senior tri-captains more as they try to break out of their slump.
Just this past Saturday in the Terriers’ overtime loss to the Mountain Hawks, Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year senior guard D.J. Irving scored a team-high 25 points.
After a rough few weeks, senior forward Dom Morris came around with a solid performance on Saturday as well. He scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored his 1,000th career point.
As for senior forward Travis Robinson, he is looking to get on track along with the Terriers. In previous years, Robinson has been a strong 3-point shooter, but this season, he has not as reliable from beyond the arc.
Last season, Robinson shot 41.1 percent from the field on 168 attempts and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc on 124 shots. So far in 2013-14, he has shot 34.4 percent on 128 attempts from the field and 32.6 percent from 3-point land.
Wednesday night’s game will be a crucial one for the Terriers. It is an opportunity for them to get back on track and attempt to keep pace with first-place American in the conference standings.
“We need to come out with focus and intensity and maintain that focus when we get those leads,” Jones said. “If we can maintain our focus and intensity, then we’ll be fine.”