The Boston University men’s basketball team dropped its third consecutive game in a 70-59 loss to Bucknell University on Saturday afternoon, leading the team to fall two games back from first place in the Patriot League.
In a hard-fought contest between the two teams fighting for first place, the Terriers (10-10, 5-3 Patriot League) could not sustain their lead in the second half, allowing the Bison (15-6, 7-1 Patriot League) to come from behind and win.
BU head coach Joe Jones said his team lost its energy and focus in the last five minutes.
“We didn’t make plays,” Jones said. “We didn’t rebound, we missed free throws, we missed open threes. We didn’t make any plays to put ourselves in position to win. When they went on the run and took the lead, we lost our aggression. It’s a shame, too, because we had played hard all game and had control of the game.”
In the first half, the Terriers held the Bison to 35 percent shooting from the field and forced 12 turnovers to carry a 29-22 lead into halftime. However, Bucknell was much more aggressive in the second half, shooting 65.4 percent on the way to 48 points in the half.
“I thought we came out in the second half with a lot of energy, the same energy we had in the first half,” Jones said. “They made some shots, but we still played good basketball. They didn’t start hitting the tough ones until there were five minutes left, and that’s when we lost our focus.”
Center Nana Foulland led the Bison with 23 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
On the other side of the floor, one of the bright spots for the Terriers was senior forward Justin Alston, who scored 20 points on 10-17 shooting. Sophomore guard Kyle Foreman also had one of his best games of the season, scoring 11 points and dishing out seven assists.
“I thought [Foreman] played really well today,” Jones said. “He shot the ball well, and he shot it with confidence. He made a lot of great defensive plays in the first half as well.
“Justin Alston played well today. [Junior guard] Eric Johnson and [freshman forward] Max Mahoney had good contributions off the bench too.”
The Terriers were aggressive on defense early in the game, breaking out a full-court press and a 2-3 zone. They forced six turnovers in the first 10 minutes, turning good defense into easy offense for a 15-11 lead.
The same trend continued for the rest of the first half, as BU forced six more turnovers. However, the Terriers committed nine turnovers and failed to stretch the lead despite their defense.
The Bison came out attacking to start the second half, cutting the deficit to two points with 13:01 remaining.
Play became heated as the score grew closer, as junior forward Nick Havener and Bucknell guard Kimbal Mackenzie had a small skirmish while diving for a loose ball. Later in the half, Mahoney and Foulland committed technical fouls when Mahoney fouled Foulland on a layup attempt.
Bucknell later took its first lead of the game on a free throw with 5:39 left and sustained it until the buzzer sounded. Forward Zach Thomas, who leads the Bison in scoring (15 points per game), knocked down a dagger 3-pointer.
It was his lone-made shot of the game, with 50 seconds left and the shot clock winding down over two defenders. The shot stretched the lead to seven and effectively ended the game.
Moving forward, Jones said his team has to perform better in the clutch.
“We had the game in control,” Jones said. “Once they went on their run, we didn’t make any plays to counter it. We have to learn how to embrace the big moment.”