Here’s the upcoming practice schedule for the Boston University men’s basketball team:
Why, you might ask, would a Division-I team be taking two days off in the heart of its conference schedule, especially in a conference in which the standings are tighter than they’ve been in at least three years?
Because of what the Terriers accomplished in the nine days prior ‘-‘- four wins: one blowout, one quadruple-overtime marathon, a double-overtime near-collapse three nights later and, finally, an 11-point victory following an 18-point first-half deficit.
BU’s most recent victory – a 73-62 comeback win against the University of Maine (8-12, 4-3 American East) at Alfond Arena on Sunday – extended a season-high four-game winning streak, pushed the Terriers above .500 for the first time since they were 5-4 in mid-December and, most importantly, pulled BU into a three-way tie for first place in America East.
‘I’m as proud of these kids as a coach could be of his team,’ BU coach Dennis Wolff said. ‘If somebody had told you that last Saturday when we went to Binghamton that we’d get four wins this week, fight through everything they fought through, be down 18 points today and come back, [you’d have to say] they deserve a lot of credit.’
The win ‘-‘- which came in the standard 40-minute form for a change ‘-‘- also marks the beginning of another trying stretch for the Terriers. BU (10-9, 5-2) will play its next two games on the road as part of a three-game stint and five of its next seven away from Boston.
Freshman forward Jake O’Brien led all scorers with a career-high 24 points (besting his 21-point performance against Northeastern University in November) on the heels of a 2-of-11 shooting performance three nights prior.
‘Jake is a good player and a great shooter,’ Wolff said. ‘[Against UMBC], he had great shots and sometimes it happens that you don’t make them. [Sunday], he got a rhythm going like he got against Northeastern, and when that happens, it stretches the defense and makes us hard to guard.’
Sophomore forward John Holland continued his scalding start to conference play, finishing with 23 points, while junior guard Corey Lowe ran the point as well as he has all season, scoring 16 points and dishing out nine assists.
With his first bucket of the day – a 3-pointer with 11:20 remaining in the first half to make the score 20-9 – Lowe eclipsed Mark Daly (1988-92) to become BU’s all-time record holder for 3-pointers made in a career with 203. He finished with three treys, upping the mark to 205.
Lowe also finished the game with a season-high (for any Terrier) nine assists and he’s accumulated 31 dimes in five games (6.2 apg) since being forced into the starting point guard role when redshirt junior Tyler Morris tore his ACL. As a team, BU accrued a season-high 20 assists in the win.
The Terriers’ largest deficit was 27-9 with 9:36 remaining in the first half. After a timeout by Wolff, BU slowly chipped away at Maine’s lead despite shooting 39 percent in the first frame, closing the gap to 38-31 at halftime.
While Holland, Lowe and O’Brien accounted for 62 of the team’s 73 points, the victory would have been near-impossible had junior forward Scott Brittain (8 points, 8 rebounds) and senior forward Matt Wolff (6 rebounds, 7 assists) not contributed some of their better efforts of the season, particularly on the defensive end.
Dennis Wolff chose to switch from a zone defense to BU’s traditional man-to-man midway through the first half, and it worked. Maine scored 24 second-half points.
‘[Maine] had a lot of energy early, but we matched it and did a good job,’ Wolff said.
Varying from BU’s second half against UMBC, in which the Terriers nearly blew a 19-point lead, outscoring Maine 42-24 in the second half shows the confidence the team has gained since the start of its physically trying week, during which BU has also played some of its best basketball of the season. Resiliency isn’t a word that was tossed around much toward the beginning of the season, but now it seems to be the only one fit to describe the Terriers.
‘[Before], I don’t think we had the right approach to finish games, and now, all the things we’ve gone through have helped us grow into a team that just keeps plugging away,’ Wolff said.
‘I think these kids have come together. They want to have a good team, they sense we can win games and when that happens, you’re going to have kids trying to make a lot of good plays.’