Basketball, Sports

Men’s basketball defeats Merrimack, ends three-game skid

After a disappointing performance at the Cream City Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Boston University men’s basketball team needed a win to reignite the momentum that fueled a 4-1 start to the season.

Men's basketball
Members of the BU men’s basketball team cheering on the sidelines during a game. With a victory over Merrimack College on Friday in North Andover, Massachusetts, the Terriers snapped a three-game losing streak. ZIYU (JULIAN) ZHU/DFP STAFF

The Terriers (5-4) got just that with a 68-54 victory over Merrimack College at Bert Hammel Court on Friday. 

With head coach Joe Jones absent due to a non-COVID illness, and assistant coach Curtis Wilson led the Terriers to the crucial victory. 

“It was just nice to get back into the gym, get close to home and obviously get a victory,” Wilson said. “(It’s) very important just to get back to playing the way we know we can play.” 

Graduate student guard Jonas Harper played 28 minutes and scored a team-high 15 points for the Terriers. Graduate student forward Walter Whyte notched his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. 

Senior forward Jordan Minor led the Warriors (1-9) with a game-high 21 points and 64% shooting from the field, but they struggled to find valuable contributions elsewhere. 

The Terriers went 0-3 during their trip to Milwaukee last weekend, which was punctuated by a heartbreaking overtime loss to the University of California, Davis. 

While talking to players before the game, Wilson highlighted the quick turnaround of a basketball schedule. 

“We don’t have to wait a week to get back on the court,” Wilson said. “We get a chance to get that taste out of our mouth.”

If the Cream City Classic left a bad taste in the Terriers’ mouth, Friday night’s victory was a breath mint. 

Although Harper and Whyte had strong performances, BU’s efficient team effort propelled them to victory. 

The Terriers knocked down 47% from beyond the arc and 50% from the field. This was highlighted by a scorching hot 83% clip from deep in the second half. 

Wilson credited the Terriers’ efficiency to halftime adjustments made to exploit Merrimack’s zone defense. 

“We talked about trying to get the ball in the paint, whether it was with the pass or the dribble,” Wilson said. “Getting the ball to the foul line and then attacking from there was the best way you could do it.” 

Merrimack’s zone defense sometimes left players open on shot attempts, but it also allowed them to actively guard the passing lanes.

“The way their zone is set up, they could get their hands on a lot of balls and get turnovers,” Wilson said.

The Terriers were able to take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes, scoring 21 points off turnovers, while the Warriors only scored seven.  

The Terriers’ bench depth and versatility were also crucial to their victory. The Terriers recorded 29 points from the bench while the Warriors only notched six. 

“We have a pretty deep team, and there are a lot of guys on this team that can play a lot of minutes,” Wilson said. “Just trying to push the right buttons and see who’s clicking with who each game is always a challenge.”

Despite playing solid team basketball in their winning effort, the Terriers still have a lot to improve upon before Patriot League play tips off at the end of the month. 

“There’s a lot more we need to work on to get better at,” Wilson said. “It’s all about getting better every day and learning from good and bad.”

The Terriers will continue their seven-game road stretch against the University of Notre Dame on Dec. 7. 

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