The Boston University men’s basketball team lost its biggest game of the season Sunday afternoon at Case Gym, falling to Bucknell University 86-66.
The Bison (21-8, 13-3 Patriot League) established themselves as the clear-cut No. 1 team in the Patriot League, clinching the regular season conference title. On Senior Day, the Terriers (16-12, 11-5 Patriot League) came into Sunday one game behind Bucknell for first place in the conference and had an opportunity to tie the Bison in the standings as both teams gear up for the Patriot League tournament.
However, Bucknell soured those hopes by outplaying BU in every aspect of the game. The Bison shot 58.2 percent in the game and held BU to 40 percent.
“They kicked our asses,” said BU head coach Joe Jones. “They obviously outplayed us. They were the aggressor. They shot it well, and they defended hard. They played great.”
Center Nana Foulland led the Bison with 20 points and six rebounds on 9-13 shooting. The Patriot League’s leading shot blocker also rejected six attempts at the rim, making it difficult for the Terriers to drive.
No Terrier found a rhythm offensively, as leading scorers senior guard Eric Fanning and senior forward Justin Alston underperformed, with eight and six points, respectively.
Jones credited Foulland’s defense for their struggles.
“I thought Nana was a big factor in the game,” Jones said. “His ability to change shots at the rim — they had nine blocks. That hadn’t happened to us all year. I thought that really changed the game because we got some shots we usually make, and we got it in there, but he just blocked it.”
Only two BU players scored in double digits: sophomore guard Kyle Foreman (16) and junior guard Cedric Hankerson (10).
The Bison led 39-32 at halftime, with Foulland leading the way. He had 10 points on 5-7 shooting. Overall, Bucknell shot 55.2 percent in the half.
Bucknell raced out to an early 14-5 lead in the first four minutes of the game. It continued to set a tone, holding a 25-17 lead midway through the first half.
After the Bison stretched their advantage to 30-19, the Terriers turned up their defensive pressure, which created easy looks on the other end and enabled them to go on a 9-0 run in three minutes to shrink its deficit to just two points.
Despite cutting the deficit, BU’s defense was too weak to sustain any runs.
“Defensively we were just bad,” Jones said. “They did whatever they wanted. When they wanted to get it in, they got it in. They drove around us. They shot faked us. They made 3’s on us. We just had no resistance.”
The Terriers were unable to find any type of offense after the break, while Bucknell clicked on all cylinders. Overall, BU shot 34.8 percent in the second half, while Bucknell shot 61.5 percent. What was a close game at halftime turned into a blowout.
The Bison were the aggressors coming out in the second half, stretching their lead to 14 points two and half minutes in. The game would not get any closer, as the Bison continued to roll, with the lead reaching as many as 26 on three occasions.
Jones said the opening minutes of the second half dictated the rest of the game.
“I thought [the opening sequence] was the whole [game],” Jones said. “They completely took us out of what we were trying to do. They imposed their will on the game. We have to be ready to play at a higher level if we’re going to challenge in a couple of weeks. I have to have our team more prepared to play in a game with this level of intensity.”