The most obvious disadvantage endured by the Boston University men’s basketball team when it matched up with George Washington University was a lack of size.
Junior co-captain Dom Morris did not start the game thanks to what BU coach Joe Jones called a “coach’s decision.” With Morris on the bench, BU’s starting forwards were 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7, whereas GW’s were 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-10. The disparity in height was an obvious factor in the 72–59 BU loss.
Though Morris played off the bench against the Colonials, he managed to lead the Terriers with 14 points, while also grabbing five rebounds.
Morris said pure effort was what led to his success against the height-advantaged Colonials.
“Just being present — a force in the paint … I just focused on that,” he said. “I tried to go to the boards and attack and rebound every opportunity I had.”
Morris’ counterpart — for a majority of the game — forward Isaiah Armwood redirected shots left and right, finishing the game with eight blocks. Armwood also collected a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Their guards were 5-foot-11 and 5-foot-11, and I knew their big men weren’t like actual big men,” Armwood said of BU’s starters. “So I was able to help on help defense a lot because [the guards] were going to get into the lane to finish because they were so little.”
Armwood’s rejections prevented the flashy drives to the hole of guards Maurice Watson Jr. and D.J. Irving from coming to fruition at many points. The Terriers were forced to rely upon shooting ability and aggressive frontcourt play to produce offense.
At the half, BU was down 37–23, and, within two minutes of the start of the half, GW had advanced its lead to 20 points. Jones decided that something needed to change, and he put his team into a full court press. BU’s superior speed to the ball on defense forced several Colonial turnovers, and the Terriers went on a 10–0 run.
The crowd’s enthusiasm at the season’s home opener grew with each turnover and resultant bucket in of the run, but the gym absolutely caught fire when freshman guard John Papale nailed a back-breaking 3-pointer from the corner and the blow of the whistle called out to signify that the young sharp-shooter had also earned a free throw.
At 11:43, Papale converted the 4-point play to cut GW’s lead to single digits for the first time since the first half. The Wallingford, Conn. native had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting on the day.
“John in particular is a guy who we have to run offense for,” Jones said. “He’s not a guy who creates off the bounce as much as he does off space, so we have to give him some shots in transition … Once the game got a little bit more up-tempo, there was more space and we were able to run a couple sets for him and then he got off a little bit.”
However, freshman Joe McDonald proved himself to be the superior of all the rookies on the court, as he finished with 21 points and seven rebounds for GW.
After Armwood threw down a monster one-handed slam with two minutes remaining in the game, McDonald converted four free-throws, and the Terriers’ hopes of a comeback were dashed.
“We just have to be consistent from the start,” Jones said. “We did not play well early in the game, and a lot of it was just that our defense was really poor. We have to work on our slides, our schemes defensively and know what we’re doing, and just have a better effort.”