The Boston University men’s basketball team fell to the United States Military Academy 71-69 in overtime of the Patriot League Conference Quarterfinals.
Graduate student guard Jonas Harper and graduate student forward and guard Walter Whyte were unable to convert on two separate occasions against Army (17-15, 10-8 Patriot League,) eliminating the Terriers (15-17, 8-10 PL) from the Patriot League playoffs.
First, Whyte missed a midrange turnaround jumper as time expired in regulation with the game tied at 59. After a back-and-forth overtime, Harper missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the corner and the Terriers were forced to foul, eventually running out of time.
The Terriers avoided both a disastrous first half and a lead from Army that would be too much to handle after the Black Knights took an early 14-4 lead. However, with a 3-pointer from Harper and Whyte, BU went on an 8-0 run to keep the team within reach.
Freshman guard Coleton Benson had the team’s first nine points in the first two minutes of the game, connecting on two 3-pointers and going 3-3 from the foul line.
“Benson came in and he was on fire to start,” BU head coach Joe Jones said. “[Army] jumped on us pretty good.”
Junior guard Jalen Rucker found the bottom of the net for the Black Knights all night, totaling 32 points on 11-21 shooting, including 2-6 from deep. Rucker scored at least 20 points in all three games against the Terriers this season.
Rucker, who played 43 out of the 45 minutes in the game, also had all 12 points for Army in the overtime period. Rucker even hit the game-tying shot with 25 seconds left in regulation.
“When the ball found him on that shot, I knew it was going in,” said Jones. “He makes big shots, that’s just who he is as a player. Big time.”
Another deciding factor in the game was the team totals from the free-throw line. Army shot 21-26 from the stripe, while the Terriers only shot 2-7. BU made up the free-throw difference with points off the bench. The Terriers had 21 points off the bench, while Army only had one.
Junior guard and forward Anthony Morales had nine points, while senior guard Ethan Brittain-Watts and sophomore forward Malcolm Chimezie totaled five.
The Terriers gave up a seven-point run with just over two minutes left in the game. One 3-pointer, a layup and a free throw in the final two minutes of regulation from Army set up a heated overtime in which the Black Knights shot 6-7 from the free-throw line.
“They just made a few more plays than we did,” Jones said. “We struggled to score down the stretch. It’s a tough one.”
As the season ends, Jones reflected on a season full of ups and downs.
“You’re emotional right now, especially with guys that you’ve coached for so long and been such a big part of your life,” he said. “Guys like [Tynen] and [Harper] and [Whyte], those guys gave us a chance to get into this game and have a chance to get to the semifinals.”
The season ends bitterly for the Terriers, just as it did last season, when the Terriers lost to the United States Naval Academy in overtime.
“We were one possession away from getting to the semis last year. We were one possession away from getting to the finals again,” Jones said.
Yet, Jones is still proud of his team, despite the first-round loss.
“They came in every day with the right attitude,” he said. “That’ll give us a chance to be successful in the future. The young guys got a chance to see how you conduct yourself as a basketball player here at BU.”