Building off of momentum from the past few games, the Boston University men’s basketball team won its third straight contest, beating Colgate University 76-74 on the road in Hamilton, N.Y.
The Terriers (18-8, 11-2 Patriot League) have now won three consecutive games for the first time in more than three weeks. With the victory, BU improves its record on the road to 8-4, the best such margin in the Patriot League.
Though tied for last place in the conference, the Raiders (9-15, 3-10 Patriot League) came into their matchup against BU with extra confidence after having beaten Patriot League leader American University. Less than a month ago, the Terriers defeated the Raiders 66-58 in a tightly-contested affair at Agganis Arena.
The second game between the two squads began with an uncharacteristically lackadaisical defensive effort from the Terriers. Although the team shot the ball well at the offensive end, BU could not pull away from the Raiders. The largest lead of the half for the Terriers was eight at the 16:24 mark. Colgate matched BU run-for-run and eventually took a 39-36 lead into halftime.
Entering the game, Colgate shot 48 percent from the field as a team, the 22nd best rate in the country. In the first half against BU, the Raiders exceeded their billing, shooting over 61 percent from the floor and lighting it up from deep with five 3-pointers.
The primary creator for the Raiders against BU was forward Murphy Burnatowski. The Waterloo, Ontario native was on fire from the field, scorching the Terriers for 17 points in the first half. Burnatowski has enjoyed playing against BU this season, scoring 27 points in both matchups and shooting over 54 percent from the field in the two contests.
“He did a good job of shooting against us again,” said BU coach Joe Jones of the forward. “He gets his shot off quickly and we don’t have anyone that emulates him as a player. He’s got good size, which allowed him to shoot over our guards. They do a good job of freeing him up and he’s a terrific player.”
The Terriers began the second frame with some determination, starting the frame on a 10-0 run, prompting an early Colgate timeout. Although the Raiders fought their way back following the timeout, BU remained ahead for most of the half, weathering the storm that came with each Colgate run.
“I love that our guys stepped up to the challenge,” Jones said. “Colgate played a great game tonight and our guys really answered the bell. Every time they made a run, we made a run right back at them.”
With 3:21 remaining, Burnatowski scored the go-ahead layup for the Raiders, capping off a 13-2 run. BU answered with a 3-pointer from sophomore guard John Papale. After some motivated defensive possessions, the Terriers went back to Papale again for a tough leaning jumper, giving them a 75-71 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. That shot would prove to be the clincher, as Colgate could only battle back to within two before time expired.
Finishing the game with 13 points, Papale extended his streak of double-digit points to four games. Senior forward Dom Morris was the star performer of the game for the Terriers though, tallying 16 points, eight boards, four assists and zero turnovers in a dominant low-post game. Having struggled of late, the senior’s performance was a welcome sight for Jones.
“He was terrific,” Jones said. “He was outstanding tonight and he played a great all-around game.”
With the two-point victory, the Terriers extended their record in games decided by three points or fewer to 6-1. Jones said he knows that the close-game experience will prove vital for BU as they prepare for postseason play.
“We made some great plays late to win it and that’s what the good teams do,” Jones said. “It was a tough road game and a well-played game.
“Our guys believe in each other and they believe in themselves, which shows itself late in games. We’ve got a number of guys who can make plays on both ends. We’ve definitely grown up a lot in the last two years.”