The Boston University men’s basketball team fell 73-62 to the College of the Holy Cross Saturday afternoon in the battle for the annual Turnpike Trophy at Case Gym.
The Terriers (12-13, 8-6 Patriot League) were looking to end their two-game losing streak with a win against the Crusaders (9-16, 6-8 Patriot League), but fell far short. This ultimately underscored the unshakeable reality that they have not fixed, or much less addressed, their problems.
“I have to look myself in the mirror,” BU head coach Joe Jones said. “It starts with me. I have to get our team back on the right track.”
The game began with some anticipation for the return of leading-scorer senior guard Cedric Hankerson, who was sidelined for five games due to injury.
Somewhat disgruntled after two consecutive losses, Hankerson was determined to make his mark. The Miami, Florida native immediately started attacking the basket, amassing seven shots in just the first 10 minutes of the game.
While he was only able to convert two of them, it nonetheless generated momentum for the team.
BU, as always, commenced the game with their double-teaming, or “trapping,” strategy on defense. The Crusaders mimicked this tactic and were more successful, forcing 11 turnovers in the first half.
As a result, the Terriers renounced this approach in favor of more conservative defensive play.
However, what manifested itself was an unexpected difficulty in time management. BU frequently found itself pressed for time during possessions and as a result took several low percentage shots.
Still, the first half was a somewhat measured performance by both teams. But the second half featured a much more grim reality for the Terriers.
Although BU had brief spurts of energy and subsequent efficiency, the team’s execution was abysmal.
The Terriers shot an alarming 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) from the field during the matchup, much lower than their average of 46.5 percent. Additionally, they turned the ball over 14 times.
One of the only respites was their impressive 39 rebounds, although they did not occur during the deciding moments of the game.
In part, Holy Cross’ formidable junior forward Jehyve Floyd was a force to be reckoned with.
Though Floyd only grabbed five total rebounds, he secured the ones that mattered most. He was in some regard ubiquitous, playing almost the entire game, in which he scored 18 points and earned a game-high four blocks on defense. Deservedly, he was given the Turnpike Trophy’s Most Valuable Player of the game award.
The Terriers have faltered nearly every time they face an opponent with a large, intimidating center.
At this point, their difficulty containing opponents in the paint is practically a cliché, as the Crusaders garnered 44 points in the paint. However, this struggle stems not from incompetency, but rather from a lack of poise.
When its opposing team goes on a run, BU breaks down. It tries to speed up the tempo to revive its own momentum, but in the process takes low percentage shots, forces unsafe passes and allows more cutting on defense. Consequently, its deficit is often widened, making it nearly impossible to come back.
Yet, the Terriers never concede. Albeit unsuccessfully, the team always fights until the end.
While BU gave up its lead late in the first half, a three-pointer from sophomore forward Tyler Scanlon got the team within five points, 49-44, midway through the second half.
This was short-lived as Holy Cross went on a 6-0 run to widen its lead until the end of the game.
Still, Jones was not pleased. He holds himself responsible for the team’s skid.
“I am going to be honest, I have to take full responsibility for the way that we are looking right now,” Jones said. “As the leader of our program, this is on me … We are not competing hard enough. Today, we had little idea of how to be successful.”
Although the Terriers have floundered over the last couple of weeks, they should be given credit for their quick adaptability. BU has dealt with injuries for the latter half of its season, and Saturday was no different as senior guard Eric Johnson and freshman forward Walter Whyte were out with injuries.
It is not that the same players are injured for long stretches of time. Rather, healthy players are injured as soon as other players recover. As a result, the team’s rotation is muddled.
However, Jones does not use such changes in his team’s rotation as an excuse for their difficulties.
“We’ve been able to win with players coming in and out of the lineup,” Jones said. “Those are easy excuses to make, but I’m not going to make them.”