In the first round of the Patriot League Men’s Basketball Championships, the Boston University squad battled against Lehigh University Wednesday. After a competitive start to the matchup, the Terriers took control in the second half and beat the Mountain Hawks 69-58.
No. 7 BU (7-10) traded blows with No. 10 Lehigh (4-11) in the beginning stages of the game, but the Terriers went on a small run at the end of the opening half, scoring six unanswered points by halftime, shooting the score to 31-23.
BU was propelled in the opening period by efficient shooting, going 13-of-26 from the floor, good for a field goal percentage of 50%. Contrarily, the Mountain Hawks struggled on the offensive end, going nine-of-27 from the floor, including one-of-eight from three-point range.
Terriers head coach Joe Jones said his squad was able to play with a rhythm similar to that of its previous game against Army West Point — BU nearly overcame a 22-point halftime deficit Sunday, falling by a two-point margain.
“The second game at Army was a tough one because we started out so slow, but it was great to see the guys come back,” Jones said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s been such a wild year. It’s been really hard to get some momentum.”
The trio of senior guard Javante McCoy, junior guard Walter Whyte and senior forward Sukhmail Mathon led the Terriers on offense, with both McCoy and Whyte scoring more than eight points in the first half. Mathon also ended the half with two assists and five rebounds.
The Terriers then dominated the game in the second half, scoring a total of 38 points in the 20 minute period.
Mathon continued to drive BU on offense, as he made a layup followed by a successful foul shot to give the Terriers a 13-point lead within three minutes of the second half. Mathon ended the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
McCoy also added four more points to his total in the second half, bringing him to 13 points by the end of the contest.
The Terriers were led in overall scoring by Whyte, who scored a season-best 19 points and also tallied eight rebounds and two assists.
On top of Whyte’s impressive offensive performance, he said he was more confident in his defensive play this game, which Jones also noticed.
“I felt like I gave a lot more effort on defense. That’s something that coach has been pushing me to be better on,” Whyte said. “Today’s a start. There’s a lot of things I can definitely still do better.”
Despite Lehigh’s scoring struggles — ending the game 23-62 from the floor — the Mountain Hawks received an impressive individual performance from senior guard Marques Wilson, who netted a team-high 19 points. Outside of Wilson, Lehigh only had two other players reach double-digit points.
The Terriers are now slated to face off against Colgate University (11-1). BU lost all four of its matchups with the Raiders in the regular season, three of which were double-digit losses.
Jones said he recognizes the challenge presented by the Raiders and said his squad will have to play at the top of their game.
“We know we need to play our best game to win, there’s no doubt about that,” Jones said. “This is a terrific team that we’re going to play on Saturday and we have to be up to the challenge.”
Tipoff for BU’s matchup against Colgate is set for 1 p.m. at the Reid Athletic Center Saturday.