ALBANY, N.Y. – Corey Lowe bent over near mid-court with his head buried so nobody could see the tears beginning to roll down his face. Even though his teammate, Jeff Pelage, was shooting a pair free throws with 1.1 seconds left in overtime, they were insignificant. The Terriers’ fate had already been sealed. As Lowe lifted his head to watch the clock expire, the tears dripped off the side of his cheek onto the tan maple hardwood.
Boston University’s season had come to an end.
With Lowe’s tears fell the 33 points he contributed to a losing effort (18 of them from 3-point range) in a game the Terriers led by eight points with 3:13 seconds left in regulation. A team that has suffered through numerous collapses in the past three seasons, third-seeded BU’s 79-75 loss Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the America East Tournament at SEFCU Arena to the sixth-seeded University of Maryland-Baltimore County was perhaps the worst.
Senior forward Darryl Proctor matched Lowe’s 33 points, including an incredible fade-away jumper to tie the game at 67 with 2.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Proctor, a first-team all-conference selection, scored six of defending conference champion UMBC’s last nine points down the stretch and contributed four more in the overtime leading to the Retrievers’ 40-18 demolition of the Terriers (17-13) in paint scoring.
Analyzing the game, as well as the Terriers’ two regular-season wins against the Retrievers – one of which came in overtime at Case Gymnasium – BU coach Dennis Wolff felt his team possessed an advantage in the low post. As the contest progressed, however, the gameplan shifted given how poorly the forwards (particularly junior Scott Brittain and freshman Pelage) were executing. The two combined for nine points on 3-of-9 shooting and 14 rebounds while turning the ball over seven times.
‘I didn’t think we were remotely aggressive enough at our four and five positions the whole game,’ Wolff said. ‘You can’t have seven turnovers out of the post and think you are going to win. This is a team we needed to try to put the ball inside against. Not only weren’t we scoring or getting fouled, but it became a liability.’
Senior Matt Wolff, who played his final game for the Terriers along with guard Marques Johnson, was BU’s lone contributing forward as he pulled down nine rebounds, assisted six baskets, scored five points on 2-of-3 shooting while showing no ill-effects from a concussion he suffered last Sunday against the University of Hartford.
When the Terriers last faced UMBC (14-16), freshman forward and America East Rookie of the Year Jake O’Brien notched a career-high 25 points, but he was just 3-of-8 shooting Saturday for eight points (1-of-4 from beyond the arc). Both O’Brien and Brittain fouled out with less than three minutes to go in regulation, further hampering BU’s chances once the game went into overtime.
Proctor’s jumper to get the game to that point was one to relish. After dribbling into a vicious double team of Pelage and Wolff attempting to crawl along the baseline (and possibly trying to draw contact), Proctor (12-of-25 from the field) thought for a second, stepped back into the paint and tossed a high-arching jumper that found its way into the hoop.
‘I can’t tell you how proud and fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to coach Darryl,’ UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. ‘He put us on his back and he was not to be denied tonight.’
‘It was either me or [senior point guard] Jay [Greene] to take that shot, and I had the ball in my hand so I took the initiative to shoot it,’ Proctor said.
Much like Proctor shouldered the scoring burden for UMBC in crunch time, Lowe (11-of-25 from the field) scored BU’s last eight points of regulation and when the game went into overtime, he was well acclimated to the situation.
‘We’ve had pretty big success in [overtime games] this year, so I wasn’t necessarily worried about it, but guys started fouling out and we got pretty thin,’ Lowe said.
Sophomore forward John Holland missed two 3-pointers with under two minutes remaining in regulation that could have given the Terriers some breathing room. Holland, who finished with 20 points after netting just three in the first half, responded with inaudible mumbles when asked how UMBC was able to subdue him in the opening 20 minutes.
While only in his second year, Holland’s inconsistency in regard to intensity was troubling. His back-to-back treys with 9:52 left in the game put BU up 53-42, but he wasn’t able to sustain or translate his offensive blips into a complete-game effort.
‘When you are playing two mature, older kids like Proctor and Greene who just start coming in and balling, the fact that we don’t prepare well all the time – and John falls into that category sometimes, Pelage falls into that category – I can forgive freshmen, but I think we need maturity to kick in,’ Wolff said.
This season was supposed to have brought a new level of confidence and work ethic to BU’s veteran roster, which has been playing with roughly the same core of players for three years. Instead, the Terriers were ousted from the tournament in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005-06, and Wolff is citing the same problems he did on BU’s first day of practice.
‘If we are going to take the step – everyone at BU would like to have a step – we need to have the maturity kick in. We can’t go about our business good one day, bad the next day,’ Wolff said.
Proctor’s shot isn’t the first time BU has been burned nearing the end of regulation this season. On Dec. 13, Ryan Ayers made a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:21 left to put the University of Notre Dame up 70-67. On Dec. 21, the University of Delaware’s D.J. Boney hit a trey with 4.1 seconds left in regulation to propel the Blue Hens to a 70-68 win. And in BU’s historic quadruple overtime win against Stony Brook University on Jan. 19, Muhammad El-Amin nailed a highly-contested 3 as time expired to send the game to its first overtime period.
It’s also not the first time the Terriers have fallen apart late at SEFCU Arena, as BU led by four points with 47 seconds left against the Great Danes on Jan. 8 only to lose on a pair of free throws by Tim Ambrose.
Game notes: For the first time all season, the Terriers failed to record a steal. UMBC only committed four turnovers to BU’s 15, and outscored the Terriers 18-4 in points off turnovers. ‘hellip; Holland finished the season with 543 points, the ninth-best single-season mark in program history. ‘hellip; BU went 4-2 in a program-record six overtime games this year and played a total of 10 overtime periods – 50 additional minutes on the season. ‘hellip; Greene had only two points, and they were the Retrievers’ final two of the game. ‘hellip; Lowe has turned in five 30-point games in his career, with three coming this season. BU lost two of his three 30-point games, however, the other being a 36-point outburst against Marshall University (84-80). ‘hellip; Lowe’s 25 field-goal attempts were a career high.