With less than 30 seconds left in the Boston University men’s basketball team’s first-round matchup in the Roman College Basketball Invitational tournament, senior guard Walter Whyte caught the ball from his teammate behind the three-point line and quickly fired up a shot.
The ball hit the bottom of the net, and the Terrier bench erupted. Whyte’s dagger gave BU a 70-66 lead over the opposing University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans.
When the final buzzer sounded, the tenth-seeded Terriers (22-12, 11-7 Patriot League) collected a 71-68 win over the seventh-seeded Spartans (17-15).
Before coming up clutch for his team in its matchup against UNC-Greensboro, Whyte missed BU’s Patriot League semifinal matchup against the United States Naval Academy with an ankle injury.
Whyte came off the bench to give the Terriers eight points in 22 minutes. Going into the game, BU head coach Joe Jones wasn’t sure how much time Whyte would be able to play.
“He said he would give us everything he had,” Jones said. “It says a lot about his character. That he could come into a game like that and make that kind of shot with that kind of pressure.”
While Whyte gave the Terriers a boost from the bench, graduate student forward Sukhmail Mathon led the team in scoring with 18 points to go along with nine rebounds.
The Spartans were led by senior guard De’Monte Buckingham, who led all scorers with 21 points on five made three-pointers. Four of Buckingham’s shots from behind the arc came in the second half, when the Spartans needed it most.
However, Buckingham’s offensive prowess wasn’t enough to give his team the win despite heading into halftime with a seven-point lead.
“We were unsure of ourselves,” Jones said of his team’s first-half performance. “We weren’t playing with enough confidence.”
Despite their poor performance early in the game, the Terriers finished the first half on a strong offensive run.
“In the last four or five minutes [of the first half] we started playing a lot harder,” Jones said. “We went into the half with some momentum and feeling better.”
The Terriers’ momentum entering the second half helped lead them to what every team hopes to leave the floor with –– a win. The win propels the team into the next round of the tournament, where they will face off against the second-seed Middle Tennessee State University on Monday evening.
The game against the Spartans marks the Terriers’ first game in two weeks –– since their overtime loss against Navy on March 6. Jones said his team had the entire week off following their loss to Navy before returning to practice to prepare for the Spartans.
“I thought our guys persevered tonight,” Jones said. “We were a little winded at times, but we fought through it.”