Basketball, Sports

Terriers crush Hartford

Perhaps it’s finally sinking in.

After all the press regarding how the current group of Terriers on the Boston University men’s basketball team couldn’t do this, and had trouble doing that, BU has fervently proven its critics wrong over the course of its current five-game winning streak – a run that was extended Saturday with a 72-47 walloping of the University of Hartford at Chase Family Arena.

Much like BU’s season-high five-game winning streak last season, this year’s five-game stretch has combined efficient, controlled offense with staunch defense – though this time around, a zone as opposed to a man scheme – and a complete team effort (in the truest sense of the term) on a nightly basis.

Every member of the Terriers contributed positively to the blowout, as sophomore forward John Holland led all scorers with 21 points, continuing his string of dominant, mature play since the start of the conference schedule. He added seven rebounds and two steals.

Junior guard Corey Lowe was once again poised running the point, as he dished out eight assists, collected four steals, hauled in eight rebounds and scored 10 points, producing one of his most balanced stat lines of the year.

Freshman forward Jake O’Brien finished with 16 points, junior forward Scott Brittain added 13 points and a season-high five blocks, and senior forward Matt Wolff provided three assists, six rebounds and four steals.

‘I thought that Corey was really, really locked in, in regard to trying to make good plays for everybody,’ BU coach Dennis Wolff said. ‘I thought Matt was really aggressive defensively. John and Jake did a good job scoring the ball, and in the second half, Brittain did a good job of making plays around the basket.’

But the win was more than a flashy flex of the muscles against the worst team (record-wise, anyway) in the conference. Instead, it highlighted everything the Terriers haven’t been able to successfully accomplish on a consistent basis since the current juniors were freshman.

During that stretch, the hype surrounding the Terriers was immense, and that led to two-consecutive selections by the America East coaches to finish the conference in first place. Then the same old habits started to rear their ugly heads.

Previously, following a sloppy practice that ended with the majority of players and coaches unsatisfied, the Terriers wouldn’t be able to recover and the impact of one bad scrimmage or drill would snowball into an extended issue. That wasn’t the case this week. After an unspectacular practice Thursday, BU (11-9, 6-2 America East) bounced back with a fantastic session Friday to help fuel its victory the next afternoon.

‘We practiced great on Friday,’ Wolff said. ‘We had very good intensity from the beginning defensively. We couldn’t have played with any more life. We had good communication. I thought the defensive effort was great.’

Previously, following a string of success, the Terriers would lose focus and, as Wolff commonly puts it, not realize how hard it is to consistently win at this level. That wasn’t the case yesterday as the Terriers pounced on the Hawks (6-17, 2-7) in a game that was nationally televised on ESPNU and saw the BU Band, dance team, cheerleaders and Dog Pound all make the trip to Hartford.

The Terriers accumulated a 24-7 lead with 7:39 remaining in the first half, and the closest the Hawks got after that was 13 points.

Which brings us to the next difference in the current Terriers, who will have a chance to run their winning streak to six games – their longest since the 2004-05 season when they won eight in a row – on Monday against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Previously, the ability to close out games has been a problem, whether the score is close or BU had an early lead.

In their last two contests, however, the Terriers have shown the ability to not bend when the other team makes its run. That was evident yesterday when a 3-pointer by Morgan Sabia (12 points, 5 rebounds) pulled Hartford within 13 with 12:38 remaining in the second half. Senior guard Marques Johnson answered with his second trey of the season, and Lowe followed with another from downtown to push BU’s lead back to 19.

‘I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence,’ Wolff said. ‘We want to be in contention to the end. How do we picture ourselves? I think we have a good team.’

The Terriers were just as hot heading to UMBC last season, where their five-game winning streak was snapped by a three-point loss. But perhaps this year, Monday will provide yet another set of ‘previously’s for this group to dispel.

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