Career night for Brittain-Watts not enough as men’s basketball falls to Notre Dame

Non-conference games continue to cause trouble for the Boston University men’s basketball team.

Men's basketball
Senior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts prepares for a layup. The men’s basketball team lost 81-75 against Notre Dame on Dec. 7. ELIZA NUESTRO/DFP STAFF

The Terriers (5-5) suffered a 81-75 loss to the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday night at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana. 

This now marks the Terriers’ fourth loss in the last five games — all coming on the road or at neutral sites. 

The Fighting Irish (7-2) held the lead for the majority of the game, and ended BU’s hope of winning their first game against an ACC opponent since 2013. 

Despite the resilient effort, head coach Joe Jones believes his team could have given more. 

“We weren’t tough enough to win,” Jones said. “We don’t prepare every day the way we’re capable of preparing, and we got to change that.” 

The Terriers struggled from the tip-off, allowing the Irish to take a 10-3 lead six minutes into the game. While BU was able to keep the deficit small for the majority of the first half, a series of Notre Dame 3-pointers helped stretch the lead to 13 with seven minutes to go. 

“We’ve got to change our habits,” Jones said. “We’re an older team. We’re an experienced team.” 

The Terriers have repeatedly found themselves behind the 8-ball to open games and that has cost them valuable wins over the last month. 

BU trailed by a game-high 16 points early in the second half, with graduate student forward Walter Whyte and graduate student guard Jonas Harper — the Terriers’ leading scorers — held in check. 

While BU’s usual suspects struggled, senior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts picked up the slack with a career-high 19 points. Brittain-Watts hit 5 of 10 from behind the arc and added three assists with no turnovers. 

“(Brittain-Watts) had a great offensive game,” Jones said. “He gave up on some defensive plays, but had a great offensive game.” 

Brittain-Watts wasn’t the only Terrier to connect from downtown. BU hit 12 threes on the night, three shy of their season high. Junior guard Caelan Jones hit a three with 4:12 to go in the game after a missed BU free-throw. 

Despite not making a field goal for the final 5:41 of the game, the Fighting Irish shot an excellent 20 for 24 at the free-throw line.

On the other side of the court, BU forced Notre Dame to commit a season-high 16 fouls — a rare performance for a team that commits the fewest turnovers in the country. 

The Terriers’ deep bench kept them in the game and outscored Notre Dame’s bench 32-11. 

BU shot over 40% from downtown, but Notre Dame was even better. The Fighting Irish connected on 53% of their three-point attempts –– nearly 20% above their season average of 37%. 

Graduate student guard Cormac Ryan led the way for the Fighting Irish with  21 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-4 from deep. Graduate student guard Trey Wertz added 16 points and four assists in the winning effort. 

“They’ve got so many weapons, it’s hard to contain all their guys,” Jones said. “We didn’t contain the ball and that was a big part of the second half.”

The loss put BU at .500 on the season, but after a competitive effort against a tough Notre Dame squad, the Terriers proved they have the foundation in place for a successful season.

BU will stay on the road for the next game, as they head to New York on Saturday to take on Marist College at 7 p.m.

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