After falling behind by double digits for the second time in as many games, junior guard Javante McCoy and sophomore guard Walter Whyte combined for 37 points to lead the Boston University men’s basketball team past the United States Naval Academy, 69-63, Thursday night at Case Gym in the Patriot League quarterfinals.
The win pushes the third-seeded Terriers (19-13, 12-6 Patriot League) to the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament where they’ll host seventh-seeded Bucknell University, who BU beat 74-71 on Feb. 29.
The Terriers’ usual leading scorer, senior forward Max Mahoney, finished with just nine points on the night. The Basking Ridge, New Jersey native went 3-for-12 from the field.
BU head coach Joe Jones said that when Mahoney isn’t posting double figures, it will take big games from players like McCoy and Whyte to pull out victories, and that’s precisely what happened on Thursday night.
“To win a game when [Mahoney’s] not at his best is huge,” Jones said.
Despite shooting just 32.1 percent from the field and going 3-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half, BU found itself only trailing 31-27 at halftime. Navy (14-16, 8-10 Patriot League) started the evening with a 15-5 lead after going on a 13-0 run.
The Terriers found their groove on offense coming out of the halftime break and started to push the tempo, leading to more open baskets and getting to the foul line.
Whyte tied the game at 46 midway through the second half with a layup and then connected on the ensuing free throw. After a three-pointer by Whyte to put BU up 50-48, the team never relinquished the lead.
Sophomore guard Jonas Harper netted two key three-pointers down the stretch to give BU a 63-56 lead with 2:32 to play.
Navy then cut the deficit to four at 1:44 after its leading scorer junior guard Cam Davis drilled a three.
In need of someone to close out the game, it was McCoy who secured the win for BU — for the second straight game.
After making a nice move to the basket for a layup, McCoy iced the game with two free throws to give BU a six-point lead with 21 seconds to go.
“[McCoy] deserves all the credit,” Jones said. “When you have a guy like that who can make shots when the offense breaks down, that’s huge.”
McCoy finished the game with a game-leading 19 points and one rebound, while Whyte contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.
After an upset by Bucknell (14-19, 8-10 Patriot League) over second-seeded American University, the Bison will travel back to Boston on Sunday in hope of avenging last Saturday’s 74-71 loss where BU ended the matchup on a 23-5 run.
The game against Bucknell tips off at 12 p.m. Sunday at Case Gym.
Jones said he knows even though BU will face the No. 7 seed instead of the No. 2 seed, nothing comes easy in the playoffs.
“I told the players,” Jones said, “‘expect an absolute battle.’”