Basketball, Sports

Men’s basketball falls to Northeastern in season opener

Senior Cedric Hankerson and the Terriers look to rebound after a loss to Northeastern. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University Terriers fell 65-59 to the Northeastern Huskies Friday night in Case gym. In the season opener, the Terriers (0-1) lost to the Huskies (1-0) in a close and competitive game.

After a successful season last year, which ended in a loss in the Patriot League semifinals, the Terriers have looked to renew such success this year with four fresh faces. Among them are freshman point guard Javante McCoy and freshman forward Walter Whyte.

Head coach Joe Jones said was impressed by McCoy’s seven-point, three-assist and zero-turnover performance in his debut.

In the matchup against Northeastern, BU faltered to find scoring avenues and failed to execute when needed. Although statistically the two teams performed almost evenly, BU kept within close reach because of the Huskies’ 18 turnovers.

Even so, the first half featured some back-and-forth competitiveness. The Terriers looked to establish their offense early on, but were stifled by a strong Husky defense. Still, their own defense forced 11 Northeastern turnovers.  

“There’s no flow to what we’re doing right now on a consistent basis,” Jones said. “There were things in our control, and we have to make those plays.”

However, BU’s offensive woes persisted, feeding a Northeastern scoring surge late in the first half. The Terriers shot 9-28 from the field in the first half, going into the break trailing by nine.

While the first half was rather subdued, the two teams parried back and forth for an edge in the second half. Both teams were more careful with the ball and there was better off-ball movement that led to some elegant playmaking.

“I thought we played better than [Northeastern] in the second half,” Jones said. “We played better in the second half offensively.”

During that half, the Terriers tried to claw their way back into the game. They shot almost 50 percent from the field and shot better from the three-point line. Additionally, they abandoned what seemed to be a double teaming ploy in the first half in favor of a more effective “switching” strategy in the second. This proved fruitful as they limited the Huskies to just 36 percent from the field and 13 percent from outside the arc in the second half.

“We played some zone,” Jones said. “We started switching the ball screens and that really slowed them down. That was a good adjustment and the right one to make.”

Despite the increased intensity toward the end, the Terriers’ inability to knock down free throws was a reason for their downfall. In the second half alone, they went one for eight from the line, dropping their free throw performance to a poor 50 percent for the game.

“You have to make foul shots to win,” Jones said. “It’s early, but we have to improve for these upcoming games.”

On the other hand, Northeastern consistently amassed easy points at the line. They finished 13-16 of their free throws in the second half, contributing to their game total of 83 percent.

“They made the plays to win the game,” Jones said.

Despite several shortcomings in the Terriers’ performance, it was only their first game after a preseason riddled with injuries. Nonetheless, Jones said he is optimistic about the team’s ability to remedy their difficulties and restore the Terrier culture of winning.

“It’s still early,” Jones said. “We’re not there offensively right now, but we’ll get there.”

The Terriers will get another chance as they take on the University at Albany Monday night at Case Gym.

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