Basketball, NCAA, Sports

RECAP: Men’s basketball season falls short, but is defined by resilience, toughness

85-80. That was the score as the Boston University men’s basketball team walked off the court in Annapolis, Maryland with its Patriot League championship and March Madness dreams dashed by the United States Naval Academy. But while the scoreboard spelled out the end of the season for the Terriers, it does not tell the whole story.

Missing from the scoresheet is the tenacity the team exemplified against Navy. Losing by five points with only 13 seconds left in regulation, a spot where many other teams would turn their attention to the bus ride home, BU’s graduate student guard Javante McCoy raced down the court and hit a three to cut the Midshipmen lead down to two. Following a Navy free throw, McCoy hit another three to tie the game and send it to overtime. 

men's basketball season recap
The Boston University men’s basketball team. The Terriers ended their season with a tight score of 85-80 against the United States Naval Academy but remained resilient throughout the year. MOHAN GE/DFP STAFF

This resilience embodied this year’s team, which battled through early-season injuries and played 19 games decided by single-digits through the end of its Patriot League playoff run.

“We were definitely a team that was very resilient,” head coach Joe Jones said. “There’s no question about that. We won a lot of close games.”

The team started the season with a non-conference game against the University of Rhode Island on Nov. 9, a game the Terriers lost 71-62. One highlight of non-conference play included a close 49-48 loss against crosstown rival Northeastern University, which included a 13-point comeback by BU. Another notable performance was an 80-81overtime thriller against Power-5 opponent Florida State University. BU neared the start of its Patriot League schedule on a five-game win streak before an overtime loss against Marist University left the Terriers at 9-4 going into conference play.

After the hot start, the Terriers went 2-4 to start league play with wins against Bucknell University and American University but losses against the University of Loyola Maryland, the United States Military Academy and Navy twice. 

After working out their kinks, the Terriers turned the season around, winning eight of the next nine games. This included handing Colgate University, the eventual Patriot League champions, its first regulation loss of the season.

“We’ve got a talented team,” Jones said. “We were experienced. At some point, we were going to get it going.”

The regular season ended with a win against Lafayette University and losses to Colgate University and Bucknell University. The Terriers ended at 11-7 in Patriot League play and went into the Patriot League tournament as the third seed.

In the Patriot League quarterfinals, BU beat Loyola Maryland 76-64 behind McCoy’s 26 points in front of the home crowd at “The Roof.”

Following the loss to Navy in the semifinals, BU was invited to participate in the Roman College Basketball Invitational, a postseason tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida where it was seeded tenth out of 16 teams. 

“It was a great experience. We got a chance to play against some great competition,” Jones said. “We were down in Daytona…it was good to be down there and have the guys have a chance to be in that type of environment.”

The Terriers mounted an improbable comeback to upset the University of North Carolina Greensboro in the opening round, although their run was cut short by Middle Tennessee State University in a 76-46 rout. 

One strength of this year’s basketball team was their offensive efficiency — BU shot 45.4% from the field, which was good for third-best in the Patriot League. The team’s on-and-off-court chemistry also helped, according to Jones.

“I think they’ll be friends forever,” Jones said. “They really got along really, really well. They were a joy to be around.”

Another strength was rebounding, mostly due to the dominance of graduate student Sukhmail Mathon, who had a breakout final season.

Mathon averaged a double-double, collecting 10.2 rebounds and 15.1 points per game. His 18 double-doubles throughout the season ranked eighth in the NCAA. Dominant in the paint, Mathon finished the season with 357 rebounds, which was the most in the Patriot League by 116 rebounds. The center ranked seventh in all of the NCAA in rebounds, and fifth in the nation in offensive rebounds per game. All of this culminated in his selection as the 2022 Patriot League Player of the Year.

“He deserves a lot of credit for how hard he worked to improve his game,” Jones said of Mathon. “He’s a great lesson in perseverance because he’s a guy that if you looked at him two years ago there’s no way you would have thought he would be good enough to be the Player of the Year in a league.”

Another game-changer for the Terriers was McCoy, who averaged the third-most points per game in the Patriot League with 17.4. McCoy also shot 42.5% from beyond the arc and recorded 102 assists to anchor the team’s offense throughout the year.

Both Mathon and McCoy, along with Garrett Pascoe and Fletcher Tynen, played their final game at BU. Jones reflected on the time he spent with them, including a championship, pandemic, wins and tough seasons.

“We’re going to miss them,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of depth to our relationships, more so than any other team I had because we’ve been around each other for so long and experienced so much together.”

Through the close games, Patriot League tournament runs and relationships, this chapter in BU basketball history is now closed. However, the next chapter is now opening with a bright future that features a host of young talent. 

Jones looks forward to seeing sophomore guard Caelan Jones, sophomore guard Miles Brewster, sophomore guard and forward Anthony Morales and junior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts develop throughout the next year.

“It’s exciting to have some guys that have been behind some very good players and now they get a chance to show what they can do,” Jones said.

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