In a tightly contested game, the Boston University men’s basketball team managed to pull out a 69-68 victory over Colgate University to salvage a split in the season series.
Leading the Terriers (16-11,11-4 Patriot League) was senior forward Justin Alston, who had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of the season, and senior guard Eric Fanning, who contributed 13 points of his own.
The contest came down to the wire, with the Terriers not quite able to put the Raiders (9-19, 7-8 Patriot League) away until the buzzer sounded.
“We played very good defense in the first half, but we lost some assignments in the second half,” said BU head coach Joe Jones. “[We] gave up some [3-pointers] at times to their shooters and that hurt us. We didn’t shoot the ball well from the foul line, we went 18-30, and that really hurt us. The thing that kept it close was offensively, we were stagnant and didn’t make foul shots.”
BU never trailed in the game, opening up a significant lead early in the game. A free throw by freshman forward Max Mahoney extended the Terriers’ advantage to 16 with 8:18 remaining in the first half. Mahoney was a key cog for his team tonight, turning in 10 points and five rebounds in a type of performance that he has grown accustomed to in his freshman season.
Although Mahoney came down with three offensive rebounds on the night, the Terriers lagged behind overall. The Raiders outrebounded them 40-33, including 13 offensive rebounds.
“We wanted to get 12 offensive rebounds — we got eight,” Jones said. “There were just some areas we’ve got to try and change. Like, Eric Fanning only had three rebounds tonight. That’s just something we can’t have.”
The lead continued to fluctuate between nine and 16 for the remainder of the half, settling at nine when Colgate guard Francisco Amiel converted a layup with two seconds remaining.
The real drama started in the second half, when the Raiders roared back into the game. By the eight-minute mark, the Terriers’ lead had faded to four on a 3-pointer by guard Sean O’Brien.
“When you play close games, you’re playing possession by possession, so the game changes, but I felt good throughout the game because of how good we were playing defensively,” Jones said.
BU seemed to have control when Fanning made a layup to make it a 61-54 lead with 1:10 remaining. However, there was no quitting for the Raiders. Forward Jordan Swopshire managed to drop in a 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining, cutting the score to 62-59.
With BU up 67-65 with seven seconds remaining, the pressure was on to get the ball in bounds cleanly and not let the lead slip away. Fanning fed the ball to Alston for a dunk with two seconds left to put BU up 69-65. With no time remaining, Swopshire converted on a 3-pointer and hoped for a foul that never came, and BU managed to hold on.
Alston was crucial to the team in a night where overall shooting was not where it needed to be.
“He’s played very well,” Jones said. “It’s a night where we didn’t shoot well, 5-21 from three, so that’s 23 percent where I think we had some good looks. It was a defensive struggle where neither team played well offensively.”
The keys to victory for the Terriers revolved around defense, as Colgate went a measly 8-29 from the 3-point line and shot just 39.6 percent in the contest. The Raiders also had 16 turnovers, which included four steals by junior guard Cedric Hankerson, compared to the Terriers’ ten.
“Tonight was good,” Jones said. “We took care of the ball. [Sophomore guard] Kyle Foreman had a couple miscues, but we’ve been doing a good job getting deflections and Cedric’s been amazing, absolutely amazing, and he impacted the game defensively.”