Basketball, Sports

Terriers pull off historic win at South Carolina

Junior guard Javante McCoy, shown in a January 2019 game against the College of the Holy Cross, scored a team-high 17 points, leading the Terriers to an upset win over the University of South Carolina. MADISON EPPERSON/ DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University men’s basketball team defeated University of South Carolina 78-70 Tuesday as a part of the Cancun Challenge. The win marked the BU’s first victory against a member of the Southeastern Conference.

The Terriers (3-2) used a strong defensive effort, holding the Gamecocks (3-1) to a season-low .182 3-point percentage on shots from beyond the arc.

BU, on the other hand, was hot from 3-point land as the Terriers drained nine three pointers. Junior guard Javante McCoy continued his hot streak, scoring a team high 17 points. Sophomore Jonas Harper and redshirt freshman Alex Vilarino were also in double figures for the Terriers.

BU head coach Joe Jones said a game like this will go a long way in preparing the Terriers for the rest of the season.

“I’m proud of our guys and proud of the way they fought all night,” Jones said during a postgame press conference. “This is a game that I think can really help us because we had to be tough. We couldn’t walk in here and think that we were going to even have a chance to be competitive unless we were tough.”

Tuesday’s victory was the first for BU over a Power 5 opponent since the 2013-2014 season when they defeated the Maryland Terrapins 83-77.

The Terriers matched the hosts’ efforts throughout the first half. The Gamecocks ended the first half on a 6-0 run, but only led the Terriers by three points at the break.

Neither side was ever able to control the game with a sizeable lead in the second half until BU went on a 9-0 streak with the game tied at 60. McCoy hit a layup with 4:39 remaining to give BU a 69-60 lead.

A key for the Terriers was points off of turnovers. They converted 13 Gamecock turnovers into 13 points. BU also held the advantage in bench points 19-8.

Rebounding became crucial in the closing stages of the game for BU when South Carolina went cold. South Carolina didn’t make a basket for five minutes after BU took its 69-60 lead, which allowed for BU to play conservatively and let the seconds tick away.

Senior forward and captain Max Mahoney echoed Jones’ statement that this game was about toughness.

“We knew this was going to be a physical game,” Mahoney said at the press conference. “The game kind of relied on who was going to out-rebound the other team.”

Those nine threes from the Terriers often came from driving the lane and finding an open shooter on the outside. The Gamecocks collapsed hard in the paint, which led to many good looks from behind the arc for BU.

McCoy, who shot 1-for-6 from three, said his teammates were able to hit their open looks at the hoop.

“I had a lot of good shooters on the 3-point line tonight and they were hitting the shots,” McCoy said during the press conference.

South Carolina sophomore AJ Lawson had 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a losing effort. It was clear from the jump he was the one player BU had to focus their attention on. 

Jones said he knew Lawson was going to be a difficult player to defend.

“I thought that [Lawson] was going to be a tough matchup for us.” Jones said during the press conference. “I thought our length in that position was really going to give us some problems and it did.”

BU moved to 1-2 all time against the Gamecocks with the victory.

Mahoney, a frequent scorer for the Terriers, finished with just nine points but hauled in six rebounds along with a steal.

The Cancun Challenge continues for BU on Friday when they take on West Virginia (3-0) in Morgantown, West Virginia. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Mountaineers lead the all time series 2-0. A Terrier win would be the first over a Big 12 opponent in school history.

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