By: Dave Souza
The Boston University Men’s Basketball team lead by two points with two and a half seconds remaining in overtime in their crucial Patriot League tilt with the Army Black Knights Wednesday night at Case Gym. Eric Fanning missed his second of two free throws just before forward Jacob Kessler sprinted up the court, looking to win the game on a half-court buzzer beater. His shot was short.
However, officials called a foul on Fanning as time expired, meaning that Kessler would again have a chance to play the hero for Army. After sinking his first shot and missing his second, the sophomore shot for a chance to send the game into double overtime. The equalizer however would never fall as the Terriers held on to win an instant classic over Army, 90-89.
“We made plays and put ourselves in a position to win the game,” said Coach Joe Jones. “The game could have gone either way. It was a game where we were able to make more plays…one more play and obviously their missed foul shot.”
Jones harped on the importance to get back in the win column, particularly in Patriot League play, in his post game press conference.
“We had three games last week and we couldn’t muster up a win,” said Jones. “The Bucknell game was a tough one because we felt that we played well for 35 minutes and then we let that slip away; at Loyola we didn’t have a great start; and then the Colgate game, after having a great start, we just fell apart. So tonight it was good to get back on track.”
The scarlet and white were able to get back on track with solid play around the glass. Once a prolific scoring team from beyond the arc with John Papale – who was in attendance for Wednesday night’s game – this squad of Terriers earn their keep in the paint. Forty of BU’s 90 points came from down low, as big men Justin Alston, Nick Havener, and Tyler Scanlon combined for 36. The Terriers were also able to out rebound the Knights 38 to 36 with all but seven of their boards coming on the defensive side of the ball.
Fanning drove the Terriers offense on the night, scoring a career-high 32 points while playing in just 30 minutes of the contest. The key, Fanning said, was playing aggressive the entire night.
“I don’t think I was aggressive in the Bucknell game,” said the senior guard. “My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball [tonight] and coach called a few sets for me, tried to get me going. But it was just my teammates, they set screens for me, tried to get me going…I benefited from all that and was able to make good plays down the stretch.”
The go-to shooter for the Terriers described how Army seemed to never get discouraged when they would go down. In fact, according to Fanning, it seemed like the Knights became more energetic when they fell behind. To counter that, Fanning preached to his team about staying calm.
The tactic worked for the Terriers, who were able to slow play down and create more scoring chances for everyone involved as the BU offense exploded for its third highest point total all season.
The win not only puts BU back into a tie for second place in the Patriot League, but it also gives Coach Jones his 100th win at the helm for the Terriers.
“Coach Jones does so much, he cares so much about us,” said Fanning, who joined his teammates in a raucous celebration behind Jones during his on-camera interview immediately following the victory. “We’re just glad we could share that moment with him, we wanted to be apart of it. It’s good to see something like that happen to a guy like Coach Jones because he’s a great guy. Besides a coach, he’s just a great guy.”
And while Jones understood the magnitude of the victory for both the team and himself, the head coach saw the milestone as more of a testament to what the program has been able to do.
“For me, the numbers aren’t really that important, I don’t get that overly excited about those things,” said Jones, sporting his black sneakers with gold laces for ‘Suits and Sneakers’ week, the NCAA-wide effort to raise cancer awareness. “The thing that I like to get excited about is I love to see the smiles on their faces when we win. I love to see the compete, and I just enjoy coaching. I love working here.”