The Boston University men’s basketball team defeated the U.S. Naval Academy for the second time this season, 61-48, Wednesday night in Annapolis, Md.
The Terriers (16-8, 9-2 Patriot League) came into the game following a tough streak in which they have blown large leads in the second half in three straight games.
After being unsatisfied with his team’s concentration level in its recent games, BU coach Joe Jones said he was content in that regardWednesday.
“I was pleased with our focus,” Jones said. “I really liked the way we approached the game. We really played as a unit, I was really happy about that.”
The Midshipmen (7-15, 2-9 Patriot League) have now lost six contests in a row, including three at home, and sit tied for last place in the conference with Lafayette College and Colgate University.
BU was dominant in the first 10 minutes of the game due in large part to excellent 3-point shooting. After receiving a pass from senior guard D.J. Irving on a fast break, freshman guard Cedric Hankerson hit a deep 3-point shot. In the next three minutes, Hankerson converted on two more 3-point field goals, increasing the Terrier lead to 16-6.
With nine minutes left in the half, Navy had yet to establish any sort of rhythm on offense, having committed five turnovers. After hitting a jumper in the first minute of action, the Midshipmen failed to convert another field goal until the 13:08 mark of the frame.
It seemed that BU was in the midst of a blowout, when, with 7:19 left in the half, Irving hit a 3-pointer to increase the lead to 22-8.
Déjà vu set in for the Terriers, however, when the Midshipmen quickly regained their balance and found themselves back in the contest.
A running right-handed hook shot off the glass by guard Brandon Venturini cut the lead to 22-15, and then a charge taken against Hankerson on the other end helped shift the momentum in Navy’s favor.
Poor free-throw shooting prevented the Terriers from maintaining a large lead, as BU missed five of its eight attempts in the first half.
The Midshipmen went on a 9-0 run, and had the last say of the half when freshman Tim Abruzzo made a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left, leaving BU’s lead slimmed down to 26-20 at halftime.
Although BU allowed Navy back into the game with six offensive rebounds in the first half, the Terriers were aggressive on the glass themselves, coming up with 11 offensive boards in the frame.
The Terriers started the second half with a 9-4 run, which was capitalized by dunks from sophomore forward Nathan Dieudonne and senior forward Dom Morris.
The big story for Navy was the play of Abruzzo. Abruzzo hit his third 3-pointer with 12:48 left in the game to cut the score down to 37-28. The freshman finished with 12 points and six rebounds and shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
The Terriers, however, were the superior shooting team throughout the game as Morris hit a trey on the very next possession.
BU then increased its lead to 47-35 when sophomore guard John Papale drained a 3-pointer on a pass from senior guard Travis Robinson with9:29 remaining.
In response, Navy went on a 7-0 run that was finished off by a jump shot from forward Worth Smith. That brought the score to 47-42, which would be as close as the Midshipmen would get for the rest of the night.
The Terriers kept their energy on offense, as a dish from junior forward Malik Thomas led to a 3-point make from Irving that pushed the lead to 50-42 with four minutes to play.
Despite poor free-throw shooting in the first half, BU kept its composure from the line in the final minute, shooting 9-for-10 from the foul line as the game winded down.
“It was a hard fought game, Navy plays really hard,” Jones said. “I was really pleased with our rebounding effort, I thought we really battled. Give Navy some credit, they didn’t quit, they kept coming at us. I’m happy with our energy and our effort.
“We really played like a team, especially in the first ten minutes of the game. We really did a nice job sharing the ball and playing together.”