The Boston University men’s basketball team took care of business Wednesday night in the first of four consecutive road games, knocking off the University of New Hampshire 70-69.
The Terriers (3-3) struggled from the free-throw line throughout the game, but it was a foul shot by freshman guard Javante McCoy with 2.6 seconds remaining that sealed the victory against the Wildcats (1-6).
“I was so proud of our guys,” BU head coach Joe Jones said. “We just kept battling. We didn’t get down. We missed foul shots, but we stayed positive. We made some plays late to win.”
After beginning the season with a 0-3 record, BU has now emerged victorious from three straight contests heading into a two-game trip to the Sunshine State next week where the team will take on the No. 10 University of Miami and Bethune-Cookman University.
Despite going 8-for-21 from the free-throw line and losing the rebounding battle 39-31, the Terriers rode 47.5 percent shooting from the field in the victory over the Wildcats.
Sophomore forward Max Mahoney exploded for a career-high 15 points after shooting 7-of-11 from the field in addition to grabbing six rebounds.
Senior guard Cedric Hankerson missed nine of his 16 shots and went 0-for-4 from three-point line, but still made seven field goals to lead the Terriers in scoring with 17 points.
UNH enjoyed success from the field, hitting 45.3 percent of their shots while shooting 14-for-17 from the free-throw line.
Senior forward Tanner Leissner led all scorers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting in addition to seven rebounds, while freshman guard Josh Hopkins performed well, notching 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting as well.
Senior forward Iba Camara was the final Wildcat to finish in double-digits, posting 12 points to accompany his 12 rebounds.
While these three starred for UNH, the team received no more than six points from any other performer.
But for BU, it was a total team effort.
Ten players registered points on the score sheet, while nine players played at least 10 minutes. Both McCoy and junior guard Kamali Chambers scored seven points, while senior guard Will Goff notched a pair of three-pointers.
The tandem of freshman guard Walter Whyte and sophomore forward Tyler Scanlon also combined for 10 points.
BU was commanding in the first half, jumping out to a 38-26 halftime lead following a three-pointer by Scanlon with 23 seconds remaining. The Terriers shot 14-for-28 from the field and 5-for-10 from three-point range while holding the Wildcats to 11-for-26 shooting from the field.
The Terriers were the aggressor in the first 20 minutes as well, preventing the Wildcats from recording a single free throw attempt while earning seven of their own.
The second half was a different story.
BU shot just 1-for-9 from deep and went 3-for-14 from the foul line while UNH shot 48.1 percent from the field and added 14 successful free throws.
“You knew they were going to come out with intensity,” Jones said. “They started taking control of the game right away. We had a ton of fouls in the paint and they went right inside. At times, we just don’t play with enough intelligence inside.”
After an and-one finish by Hankerson with 11:27 remaining, the Terriers held a 51-43 lead. However, the gap did not last long. Leissner picked up a quick four points, and Camara finished a layup to cut the UNH deficit to two.
Following a jump shot from Camara with 2:27 to go, the Wildcats tied the game up at 67 apiece.
The game remained tied up for two minutes, until Terriers senior forward Nick Havener lifted his second three-point attempt of the season with less than 30 seconds to go. The shot clanged off the front of the rim, but Havener followed his shot, driving the baseline and finishing a circus reverse layup to give his team a 69-67 advantage.
“[Havener] made an unbelievable play,” Jones said. “I have no idea how he made that layup. He shot the three, ran after it, and then looped it around [the hoop]. That was a big shot.”
UNH knotted it up on the ensuing possession on a Leissner layup.
However, Leissner fouled McCoy with 2.6 seconds remaining, giving the Terriers the opportunity to grab the win before the clock wound down to zero.
The first free throw bounced out, staying consistent with the Terriers’ inability to knock down foul shots down the stretch. But McCoy was able to shake off the nerves, hitting the biggest shot of his young career on the second attempt from the line.
“[They made] the freshman make a play,” Jones said. “And he made the second foul shot.”