Basketball, Sports

Men’s basketball falls in Patriot League Tournament to American

Nate Dieudonne returned to BU's lineup, but couldn't help the Terriers earn a Patriot League Tournament win. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Nate Dieudonne returned to BU’s lineup, but couldn’t help the Terriers earn a Patriot League Tournament win. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

What had all the makings of a feel-good end to a trying season wasn’t meant to be for the Boston University men’s basketball team.

BU (18-14, 11-7 Patriot League) came up just short against American University Thursday night in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal, falling 69-64 at Case Gym.

The third-seeded Terriers had their chances against the sixth-seeded Eagles (12-18) but couldn’t overcome a lackluster shooting performance.

BU head coach Joe Jones said it was hard to find the words to describe the pain of watching his seniors’ NCAA Tournament hopes slip away.

“I blame myself for not having our guys ready to capture the moment,” Jones said. “I thought we kind of waited and hoped that things would work out, and we didn’t go after it. That’s on me. We were the aggressor for the good portion of the run that we went on this year. Tonight, we just weren’t. We were way too passive, and I blame myself for that.”

BU welcomed the return of senior forward Nathan Dieudonne and freshman point guard Kyle Foreman Thursday night, but neither looked 100 percent healthy. Foreman, playing on two injured ankles, could only contribute eight minutes. Dieudonne played 25 minutes in his first game back since Feb. 10, but he struggled to look like himself. He still pulled down seven rebounds and added five points.

“[Dieudonne’s] a tough dude,” said senior guard John Papale. “I knew he would play tonight. He wasn’t going to miss tonight. Same with Kyle. He’s a tough kid. As long as it was safe for them to play, I knew they were going to play. They gave us everything they had. I’m proud of them.”

BU looked timid offensively, particularly in the first half. The Terriers scored just 12 points in the paint and made no trips to the foul line. Junior guard Eric Fanning drove the ball into the paint just three times in the opening frame, a stark departure from his usual style of play.

Conversely, American put BU on its heels from the get-go, jumping out to a 9-3 lead. The Eagles shot 50 percent from the field in the opening half and held a comfortable 33-27 lead going into halftime.

“My team should not come out flat, without the sense of urgency that it takes to win,” Jones said. “It’s not that they don’t want to win. We just need to be able to understand how we need to go out and get this done.”

In the second half, BU finally found the offensive assertiveness it was looking for and quickly cut the Eagles’ advantage to one point on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Cheddi Mosely.

When American regained a 10-point lead, Fanning found his groove. He scored seven points in less than a minute to make it 51-48 and bring the Case Gym crowd to its feet.

But the Eagles, who beat BU to win the Patriot League title in 2013, weathered the storm and pushed their advantage back to 13 points with 3:35 remaining. After holding American to a combined 29.9 percent in the second halves of the teams’ regular season matchups, the Eagles shot 45.5 percent in Thursday’s final 20 minutes.

Even still, BU had opportunities to take control of the game thanks to stringent defense, but the Terriers went just 9-of-20 from the foul line in the second half.

“That just shows you we were very passive,” Jones said. “That’s just not us. You gotta give them credit. They beat us. But that’s just not us … I thought it was more just that we didn’t go after it enough. That’s the thing that’s going to eat at you forever.”

Meanwhile, American went 14-of-18 from the charity stripe in the second half, enough to put BU away and move onto the Patriot League Tournament semifinals.

Looking forward, Jones said BU will compete in the College Insider or College Basketball Invitational tournaments, but he acknowledged that he had trouble looking at the bigger picture.

“There’s still some basketball to be played, but this one is going to hurt for a long time,” he said. “You put everything into this. This is the moment that you work for, the opportunity to go play in the semifinals. You play your whole season for this night. We just didn’t get it done. We have no one to blame but ourselves.”

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Jackie is a sports reporter for The Daily Free Press and has previously served as Managing Editor and Associate Sports Editor of the FreeP. At this moment, she's probably watching Shark Tank and thinking of ways to work, "and for that reason, I'm out," into casual conversations. Please send all inquiries in the form of a box combo from Cane's with no coleslaw and extra fries or follow her on Twitter at @jackie_bam

One Comment

  1. no matter what, BU men’s basketball is ALWAYS the best.