Basketball, Sports

Men’s basketball hosts American, seeks fourth straight win

Senior Cedric Hankereson and the Terriers will look for their fourth straight win against American University. BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DFP FILE PHOTO

After an up-and-down beginning to the season, the Boston University men’s basketball team has hit its stride at just the right time.

Having won three straight games, the Terriers (9-8, 5-1 Patriot League) carry a boatload of momentum into Case Gym for their contest against American University on Wednesday night.

With a 5-1 record to begin conference play, BU sits tied with Bucknell University atop the Patriot League standings. The Terriers have the tiebreaker over the Bison (11-8, 5-1 Patriot League), having handed the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania tenants their lone conference loss earlier this month.

BU also currently owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with third-place United States Military Academy, having defeated Army (11-6, 4-2 Patriot League) in its conference opener in December.

The Terriers took care of last place Holy Cross, 54-40, on Sunday, and will look to do the same against the Eagles (4-13, 1-5 Patriot League), who carry the same dismal record as the Crusaders (4-13, 1-5 Patriot League).

“I was proud of our guys,” BU head coach Joe Jones said following the Holy Cross game. “Some games you are not going to look great. You are going to have to prove you can win some games like this where it is a defensive struggle, a battle. You have to find ways to win. I liked that about the win.”

American travels to Boston having been disposed of by Lehigh University on Sunday, 76-66. The Eagles struggled shooting the ball, knocking down just 35.1 percent of their shots from the field and 14 of their 21 foul shots. They were also manhandled on the glass, grabbing just 22 defensive rebounds to the Mountain Hawks’ (8-9, 3-3 Patriot League) 31.

However, American did have four of its five starters record double figures in points. Guard Sa’eed Nelson led the team with 16 points and six assists while backcourt mate guard Larry Motuzis garnered 14 points to accompany an impressive 11 rebounds, more than one third of the Eagles’ 32-rebound total.

This type of performance from Nelson and Motuzis is no unusual occurrence. Nelson leads the team in points per game with 18.2 while Motuzis is second on the squad in scoring with 15.8 points per game.

Guard Cheikh Diallo added 13 points against Lehigh, well above his season average of 6.4 per game, while freshman guard Marvin Bragg notched 10 as well, smashing his average of 5.5 points per night.

The issue for the Eagles during Patriot League competition has been their porous defense, as they allow 74.6 points per game, the third-worst mark in the conference. American also has the worst field goal percentage defense in the Patriot League, allowing teams to shoot 47.5 percent from the field.

This does not bode well for the Eagles’ matchup against the Terriers, who rank first in the league in field goal percentage (46.5 percent). BU also ranks second in the conference in three-point percentage, hitting 38.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

BU was spurred by their three-point shooting ability in the win over Holy Cross on Sunday. The team shot 6-for-13 from deep, including a 4-for-8 clip in the second half, to secure the double-digit win. Senior guard Will Goff, who currently sits fourth in the country in three-point percentage, made two threes while four others added one.

“Will made a couple of shots,” Jones said following the Holy Cross game. “We got contributions from everyone that played.”

The Terriers’ defense has been solid as they rank in the upper half in the Patriot League in scoring defense, and Sunday’s win was their best performance of the season on that end. Holy Cross made just 15 field goals while going 5-for-24 from three-point land. BU scored 15 points off turnovers while allowing the Crusaders to take just nine free throws.

“I thought we were solid defensively throughout the game,” Jones said following the Holy Cross game. “We got settled in and we got used to the pace and the flow of how they were playing. We did a better job. We got some stops and got out in transition.”

More Articles

Comments are closed.