By: Chris Lynch
In the final game of the regular season, the Boston University Terriers closed the conference schedule with a convincing victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders, 83-68.
With the victory, BU ends the regular season with an 18-13 overall record and an 11-7 in the Patriot League. They sow up the third seed in the conference tournament as well.
After a quick basket less than five seconds into the game, the Crusader offense never got in gear for the first half. They only shot 35.7% from the field and an atrocious 8.3% from three point range in the half. Only Cullen Hamilton, who got 12 points, and Karl Charles, who got 7 points, got off to good starts for the Crusaders.
BU shot 48% from the field and rode the hot hand of Eric Fanning into a first half lead. Fanning finished the first half with a double-double, totaling 14 points and 10 rebounds in the half.
Blaise Mbargorba and Dylan Haines had success in the first half, and BU exploited the middle, scoring 20 of their 34 first half points in the paint.
The second half was more of the same. Eric Fanning controlled the tempo of the game for BU, and the Terriers pulled away. Fanning finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, his career high for rebounds and among the best performances of his career.
Blaise Mbargorba turned in a career high 15 points, and showed the extent of his season long maturation with a display of his best skills and attributes on the floor. They also got two late three pointers from Cheddi Mosely, a perfect shooting day from Dylan Haines, and sealed the victory with a 67.9% shooting performance from the field in the second half.
However, the above points were mostly overshadowed by the emotion of Senior Day. Nathan Dieudonne did not play in the game, due to injury, but still stayed energetic and supportive of the team with loud claps and yells of gregarious approval from the bench.
But it was John Papale stole the show, as he has many times while in Terrier scarlet and white. John played 38 minutes of the game, beating John Holland’s record for most minutes played in BU history. He finished the game with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and a Hollywood style finish.
With under two minutes to play, John made a fade away jumper and a three pointer, scoring 5 consecutive BU points. After that shot, head coach Joe Jones called a timeout, and pulled an emotional shooting guard from the contest. John received a standing ovation from a packed Case Gym, and joined his jubilant teammates for a well deserved rest and celebration.
The praise of those two continued after the game. Joe Jones called Papale “Among the most respected players in the history of our program” and “Mr. BU Basketball”. Eric Fanning credited John with giving him the work ethic that he now has with BU and showing the team how the game should be played.
Coach Jones also praised Dieudonne as the heartbeat of the team. Dieudonne was credited as the man who started BU on the run they went on this season with his physical and emotional style of basketball. These two will surely be missed after the season is over.
Despite all the emotion of the day, the players and coaching staff knows that they have more to play. They are the third seed in the Patriot League tournament. That grants them at least one home game and gives them until Thursday to rest up. Kyle Foreman and Nate Dieudonne did not play today, and both are at least possible to play in the playoffs. Nick Havener also played only four minutes with an inflamed achilles. He will need some rest to get himself ready.
Will Goff and Cedric Hankerson, who have battled injury all season, were dressed for the contest but didn’t play. It is possible that the two could see game action in the postseason as the Terriers continue to get healthy just in time for a playoff stretch run.
BU will host American in their first conference tournament game on Thursday night. WTBU will have coverage of the game.