The Boston University men’s basketball team’s season came to an end Monday night as the Terriers (22-13, 11-7 Patriot League) were pummeled by the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (25-10) 76-46 in the quarterfinals of the Roman College Basketball Invitational in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“I thought we played against a really good team,” head coach Joe Jones said postgame. “I thought we looked fatigued. We played yesterday. They had a day off in between, so we were at a little bit of a disadvantage that way. We were a step slow to everything and they were really good.”
The rim seemed ten feet wide for the Blue Raiders from the start. Middle Tennessee State shot 55.6% from the field for the game and 41.7% from three-point range. The Terriers, on the other hand, struggled, shooting 32.1% from the field and a remarkably low 20% from three.
Graduate student guard Javante McCoy scored 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting from the field, while graduate student forward Sukhmail Mathon and senior guard and forward Walter Whyte, BU’s two other leading offensive contributors, didn’t find much success either, shooting 3-for-7 and 4-for-11 from the field respectively.
The Terriers traded baskets with the Blue Raiders at the beginning of the game, before a Middle Tennessee State 5-0 run put the Terriers into a deficit they would never recover from.
Whyte, who has been plagued with injuries all season long, came off the bench and knocked down a corner three to cut the Terriers deficit to two. But, the Blue Raiders answered back with a three of their own to retake a five-point lead with just under 15 minutes left to play in the first half.
The Terriers started to struggle from the field, shooting 0-9 from three after Whyte’s three pointer in the first half. BU’s scoreless streak of over five minutes allowed the Blue Raiders to go on a 10-0 run before Mathon broke the streak with a baby hook to cut the deficit back to 10. Middle Tennessee State sophomore guard Elias King knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blue Raiders a 38-24 lead at the half.
The Terriers shooting woes continued into the second half — BU missed its first five shots after the break, until Whyte broke the Terriers’ streak with back-to-back three-pointers. McCoy, returning from the bench, began to find his shot, as he had seven points in a row by getting to the lane for a few layups and hitting a three-pointer.
However, the Blue Raiders ran away with the game in the second half. Middle Tennessee State shot 65.22 % from the field, never giving the Terriers a chance to mount a comeback. BU struggled against the Blue Raiders’ full-court press and aggressive defense. The Blue Raiders forced 12 Terrier turnovers leading to 17 points, while the Terriers were held to a season-low 22 points in the second half.
“They’re pretty deep and I just thought their length and size gave us some problems overall,” Jones said.
With 2:08 left to play, Jones pulled the starting five, allowing the two graduating Terriers, McCoy and Mathon, to get a standing ovation from the crowd in their final moments in a Terrier uniform.
McCoy finished his career as a Terrier with 1,930 points, top five all-time in BU history. Mathon also joined him in the Terrier 1,000 point club with 1,073 career points. McCoy also played the most minutes in a career in program history, while Mathon played in the most games as a Terrier in history.
“They improved as players and as people,” Jones said. “I have nothing but respect for both those guys for coming and coming back and trying to get it done. We’re gonna miss those guys.”
The Terriers finished third in the Patriot League and won at least 20 games for the second time in the last three seasons.
“This group battled and they responded,” Jones said. “I’m proud of what these guys accomplished.”