The Boston University men’s basketball team opened their season against the College of the Holy Cross on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. The Terriers took game one 83-76 at Hart Recreation Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, but lost game two at home with a final score of 68-66.
The Terriers opened their 2021 campaign after COVID-19 shortened the season in March and kept the team from the 2020 NCAA tournament, which would have been their first appearance since 2011. The Terriers defeated Colgate University for the Patriot League title March 11, one day before the NCAA canceled the tournament due to the pandemic.
The defending Patriot League Champions began the 2021 season on a shaky note — in the first half of their season opener the Terriers were outscored by Holy Cross 44-39. The Terriers rallied behind head coach Joe Jones during halftime, shooting 66.7% from the field in the second half.
“We were going to be a little rusty, we know that,” Jones said in a press conference Monday. “It is going to take us time to get it back, to [understand] what we’re trying to do. There’s going to be some first-game jitters.”
BU found success behind Redshirt Freshman Daman Tate who scored 26 points in 24 minutes, and shot 9-10 from the field and 4-5 from beyond the arc.
“I’m just happy that we got the [win],” Tate said in Monday’s press conference. “I play for my guys, and I know that they play for me.”
Tate’s double-double (26 pts, 10 reb) came in his collegiate debut — he missed his entire first season due to injury.
“Of course you want the best,” Tate said. “Every kid dreams of having 20 [points] their first game, but I didn’t think this was going to be how it was.”
The BU bench stayed vocal despite the crowd at Hart Recreation Center and cheered for their teammates, per Jones’ instruction.
“We want to be the loudest bench in the conference,” Jones said. “Watching the NBA games in the bubble, you saw the comradery. You saw the energy out of the teams that end up making runs … we need to bring our own energy.”
The Terriers outscored their opponents 44-32 in the second half, winning their season opener 83-76.
The BU men’s basketball team welcomed Holy Cross to Case Gym the following day. Due to the University’s COVID-19 protocols, both teams wore face coverings on the court.
Face mask enforcement during a game was not new for the Terriers, but it was for the Crusaders and head coach Brett Nelson. However, the Crusaders have worn masks for four months during practices so their play was not affected, said Nelson in a press conference Tuesday
The second match of the two-game series was a close competition. Holy Cross took the first half 38-37 and outshot the Terriers 47% to 45% from the field.
BU had a 29% field goal shooting percentage, and the Terriers took many wayward shots — including 14 from beyond the arc — only to sink three. Game one’s star, Daman Tate, who shot 9-10 on Monday, shot just 1-7 in Tuesday’s contest.
The Terriers fell to the Crusaders 68-66, with a nail-biting finish leading up to the buzzer. Jones said in Tuesday’s press conference that Holy Cross deserved their hard-fought victory.
“[I] give credit to Holy Cross,” Jones said. “They are a tough team. Both our games were highly contested games, and tonight they were the aggressor. They were the better team.”
Holy Cross was led by senior Austin Butler, who scored 24 points Monday and 18 points Tuesday. Butler’s 21 ppg average is a major jump from his 12.6 ppg and 11.8 ppg in his 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, respectively.
This series was played over two consecutive days — a staple of this season’s conference-only schedule for the Terriers. The BU men’s squad will face Colgate again Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 at Case Gym.
Colgate finished the 2019-20 season at the top of the Patriot League standings with a 14-4 record in PL play. The Raiders fell to BU in last year’s Patriot League Championship.