The Boston University men’s basketball team defeated Loyola University Maryland 72-65 Saturday for their second straight win after a four-game losing streak earlier this month.
The Terriers (13-16, 6-10 Patriot League) trailed by five with under eight minutes to go in the second half, but stormed back to pick up a much-needed late season victory.
“[It was] an important win for us,” junior forward Max Mahoney said. “We have [to continue] to come out here and get it done to put ourselves in a better position for the postseason.”
BU came out flat in the first half — Loyola (10-19, 6-10 Patriot League) got some easy baskets at the rim and the Terriers frequently turned the ball over. At the eight-minute media timeout, BU had eight turnovers and eight points.
Before halftime, however, the Terriers made a run to get back into the game. Down by 12 with just over four minutes left, redshirt freshman guard Alex Vilarino came up with a steal to set up an easy layup for sophomore guard Javante McCoy.
After that, the full-court defensive intensity began to pick up, infusing some energy into the BU side and giving them some baskets.
“We wanted to keep pushing the ball,” BU head coach Joe Jones said. “I wanted to see if we could get some easy opportunities, and we were able to do that.”
Vilarino came up with another steal a minute-and-a-half later which led to a fastbreak layup, and then snuck through the Loyola defense for another layup just before the first half ended. After a 16-6 run to end the half, BU had cut the Greyhounds’ lead from 14 points to four points, heading into the half down 32-28.
BU had one assist and one successful three at halftime, but they seemed to have a clear gameplan to start the second half: drive, drive and when that doesn’t work, keep on driving anyway.
The Terriers tend to rely on their three-point shooting, but against an undersized Loyola team they had no choice but to get the ball inside for easy layups.
Vilarino continued his strong play with an and-one layup to start the half, and Mahoney got two inside on the next possession to give BU their first lead of the game at 33-32.
As the second half went on, BU continued to go to the well. On every possession, they either got the ball to Mahoney at the post or a wing would drive inside, usually undeterred by any Greyhound defender.
After the Terriers started to the turn the ball over again, however, Loyola guard Isaiah Hart took advantage. Hart converted an and-one, flipped in a layup and then banked in a leaning three in a span of seconds to tie the game. Greyhound guard Kenneth Jones would land a layup in the paint to give the Greyhounds the lead.
Hart would finish with 25 points and six assists on the day. The Greyhounds would stretch their lead out to five after his outburst, but the Terriers reigned in the offense and battled back again.
McCoy gave the Terriers a 59-57 lead by hitting a corner 3-pointer with three minutes remaining, after which the two teams traded buckets tit-for-tat. Mahoney made a hook shot to tie the game at 63 with under two minutes left, the third tie in the preceding two minutes.
After Kenneth Jones missed a three to break the back-and-forth play, BU freshman guard Jonas Harper made the decisive play of the evening. He put up a three in transition with no hesitation, and sank it to break what would be the game’s last stalemate.
“Everybody tells me to keep on shooting,” Harper said. “[The coaches] keep on telling me to shoot it, so I shoot it every time. It feels good.”
The Terriers made their free throws and played solid defense after Harper’s shot, finishing the game 72-65. Four players scored in double digits, led by Mahoney’s 16 to go with 11 rebounds.
With two games to go, BU now sits tied for seventh in the Patriot League with Loyola and the United States Naval Academy. A strong showing in the season’s final contests can put the Terriers in position to make the conference tournament.
Joe Jones said the Terriers were, somehow, able to find a way to get a win Saturday afternoon.
“There were some ugly moments, there were some good moments,” he said, “… but we were able to win a close one.”