In a blowout 88-54 win over Lafayette College Saturday, the Boston University men’s basketball team got its offense from an unlikely source.
For the first time all season, the story was not about sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr., or senior guard D.J. Irving, but rather, the play of sophomore forward Justin Alston.
Alston, who, entering the contest, averaged 1.5 points per game, had a breakout performance for the Terriers (17-8, 10-2 Patriot League), coming off the bench to light up the stat sheet for a team-high 17 points, three rebounds, a block and one steal in 17 minutes of play.
The 6-foot-7 forward from Washington, D.C., subbed into the game at the 16:27 mark of the first half with the Terriers leading 8-5. Almost immediately, Alston made an impact, scoring two quick layups on strong drives to the basket to put his team up 12-5.
“I was just going off of my teammates,” Alston said of his fast start. “My teammates got me the ball early. This whole game is due to them.”
As the Terriers ran up the scoreboard, Alston found his offensive rhythm, taking advantage of a Lafayette (6-17, 2-10 Patriot League) defense that ranks last in the Patriot League in scoring.
At the 4:04 mark in the first half, Alston showcased his offensive prowess, corralling his own missed shot and putting the ball back in the net for the score.
“I took what I had and tried to find a rhythm,” Alston said. “I just went with the flow.”
Alston capped off his first-half performance with an emphatic dunk off a crisp pass from Watson to extend the Terrier lead to 36-15. At the half, Alston had already made a name for himself with 10 points and three rebounds.
The second half of play featured more aggressive play from Alston. After checking into the game with 16:48 to play, Alston got his teammates involved, dishing out an assist to Irving for an easy layup. On the defensive end, Alston recorded a thundering block on Leopard guard Nick Linder’s attempt at basket with 6:39 to go in the game.
Perhaps Alston’s most impressive play of the evening came when he made a tenacious cut to the basket, laid the ball in and drew a foul with6:09 remaining. Alston converted the ensuing foul shot.
At the 4:42 mark, Alston put the exclamation mark on his career day, putting home a dunk on a fast break.
Before the weekend, Alston had seen limited action, averaging 8.2 minutes per game. His next-best performance was a six-point, two rebound effort in a 70-60 win against the College of the Holy Cross. Saturday’s game marked the first time that Alston had ever led the Terriers in points.
His strong offensive output ignited the Terriers, as the team shot a season-high 56.1 percent. Irving was right behind Alston in scoring, putting up 16 points and five assists. Watson was close behind, scoring 12 points to go along with eight assists and three rebounds.
After the game, BU coach Joe Jones praised the work ethic of Alston, noting that Saturday’s performance was anything but a fluke.
“The thing that Justin has been doing all year is that he’s had a great attitude,” Jones said. “He’s had a great attitude about himself in terms of what he needs to do and also about being a supportive teammate. He’s worked hard. He’s worked hard on his game.
“It’s great to see when you have guys who come in and have a great game like that. It’s great to see and it’s well-deserved. He’s done a good job of doing the things that we’ve asked him to do.”