By: Chris Picher
The talent on this Boston University men’s basketball team is unquestioned, but bottling up consistent effort for forty minutes is the constant battle for this group. That message was echoed by BU coach Joe Jones postgame, but three-point shooting for the Terriers overshadowed rebounding and defensive issues, propelling BU to a 5-0 start in Patriot League play.
BU (10-7, 5-0 PL) exploded out of the gates at Case Gym on Wednesday night against the American Eagles (4-12, 1-4) and took a 20-4 lead with the help of four triples. The sixteen-point margin gave the Terriers the cushion they would need to fend off the patient American comeback.
However, Joe Jones’ men took their foot off the gas after the fast start and American capitalized grabbing loose balls, including 14 offensive rebounds. The early lead was spoiled by a passive approach from BU, something that worried Coach Jones coming into the contest. “We anticipated the game was going to be a little bit easier than we thought,” Jones said. “They out fought us tonight I wasn’t happy with the effort.”
The Terriers never surrendered their early lead and showed resilience down the stretch, highlighted by big perimeter shots with American knocking on the doorstep.
“We made a lot of big plays a lot of big plays a lot of big shots to win the game and I am proud of that,” said Jones.
Just a game removed from setting a school record of eighteen threes against Lafayette, the Terriers drained twelve triples on just eighteen attempts. The Terriers entered Wednesday night’s contest with a Patriot League leading 46 treys through four games, boasting a league-best 42 percent. Although Jones continues to preach the versatility of this team, the three ball clearly remains their bread and butter.
After BU’s initial surge, American answered with a 12-0 run, keeping the Terriers scoreless for over six minutes. The Eagles stretched their starters’ minutes in the first half, and were able to take advantage of BU’s second unit. The Terriers ended the drought with 7:28 to play on a Fanning layup, and eventually headed to the locker room up seven points, 31-24.
American builds their offense around perimeter passing and testing the resolve of the Terriers D, milking the shot clock in the process. The American underclassmen attack was lead by local freshman Mark Gasperini who finished nineteen points on 8 of 18 shooting. The six-foot-ten Brookline, MA native logged an impressive 34 minutes. Reigning freshman of the year in the Patriot League Delante Jones of AU also added eighteen points and played all 40 minutes.
The comeback attempt was stopped short in part due to the fatigue of the American lineup, using a six-man rotation for majority of the second-half, but also from the daggers from deep from the Terrier shooters.
Just when the Eagles got within striking distance, BU’s spot up shooting caught fire with great ball movement set up from paint penetration from Eric Fanning and Kyle Foreman. Fanning scored his career 1,000th point for the Terriers on his first bucket of the night, en route to 17 points and six rebounds.
Junior Cedric Hankerson and Freshman Tyler Scanlon served as benefactors of great ball movement, shooting a combined 9-13 from beyond the arc. Hankerson led all scorers with 21 points.
Hankerson is one of the leaders on and off the court for the Terriers and he is encouraged by the team’s 5-0 start, but he echoes his coach’s message of needing to take one game at a time.
“We have to look at it as every game is a different game, every game is our first game and we need to come out with something to prove,” Hankerson said.
Hot shooting has been the driving force behind the 5-0 start, but the team knows the effort on the glass and the defensive end will be key to any success late in the season. The top team in the Patriot League heads on the road on Monday to face Loyola Maryland for the start of three games in six days.