The Boston University men’s basketball team dug itself out of a 16-point hole Wednesday night against Lafayette College, but its comeback fell just short, 61-59.
The Terriers’ (16-12, 10-5 Patriot League) comeback fell just short as sophomore guard Walter Whyte’s last-second 3-point attempt rimmed out and the Leopards (17-9, 9-6 Patriot League) survived BU’s late surge.
BU head coach Joe Jones was disappointed with the way his team played in the first half.
“We were terrible,” Jones said.
The loss gives the Terriers their second loss in three games.
After Whyte missed his 3-point shot, senior forward Max Mahoney had a chance to tie the game with a last-second layup, but that shot missed the mark as well.
This pair of BU players had double-doubles for just the second time this season. Whyte finished with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Mahoney put up 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Mahoney also tallied a team-high three assists for the Terriers.
Lafayette junior guard E.J. Stephens torched BU for 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 5-for-9 from behind the arc. The Leopards’ only other player in double figures was senior forward Myles Cherry with 10 points.
Wednesday’s performance marked the first time the Terriers failed to reach 60 points since a Jan. 22 overtime loss at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Terriers found themselves down 43-27 at halftime and used stellar defense in the second half to climb all the way back, led almost solely by Whyte and Mahoney.
The offense was “out of sorts,” Jones said. He contributed that to the absence of junior guard Javante McCoy, who missed the game due to an illness.
Freshman guard Ethan Brittain-Watts made his first career start due to McCoy’s sickness. Brittain-Watts scored three points while shooting 1-for-3 from the field and also dished out an assist.
Jones said the Terriers played with a lot more “force” on both ends of the floor in the second half.
The force showed on both sides of the ball in the second half with BU holding Lafayette to just 18 points in the second half and scoring 32 of their own.
Sophomore guard Jonas Harper had a rough shooting night going 3-of-9 from the field, with all but one of his misses coming from behind the arc and scoring only nine points.
BU also struggled with turning the ball over, allowing the Leopards to garner 15 points from turnovers.
Part of the reason the Terriers found themselves in a huge deficit early on was due to great ball movement from Lafayette. The Leopards finished with 15 team assists while BU had just five.
The Terriers finished the night 21-for-56 from the field, good for a field goal percentage of just 37.5. BU fared even worse from 3-point range, going just 6-of-22 from behind the arc.
BU won the first meeting between these two teams in a nailbiter back on Jan. 2, scoring 73-72.
The loss puts the Terriers in a tie with the American University Eagles (14-12, 10-5 Patriot League) for second place in the Patriot League.
Jones said tournament seeding is not important and his team needs to perform at their highest level.
“The seeds are all irrelevant,” Jones said. “We just need to play better.”
Sunday’s game is crucial for both the Terriers and Eagles as teams battle for seeding with just three games remaining in the regular season.
The Terriers will be back in action at noon on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Case Gym against American.