By: Matthew Doherty
BOSTON — After Will Goff knocked down a right-wing 3-pointer with 7:26 to go in the first half of Wednesday night’s game vs. American, things were looking pretty red-hot for Boston University.
The Terriers led by eight points and were outshooting and out rebounding the last-place Eagles at the time. They were also winning the turnover battle. But the BU offense sputtered following Goffs bucket, and the Terriers failed to score again in the opening frame.
Highlighted by six BU (9-9, 5-2 PL) turnovers, American ended the first half on a 13-0 run and established a lead they would never relinquish. Freshman Sam Ioria had 26 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals, Sa’eed Nelson chipped in 18 points, and American (5-13, 2-5 PL) recorded 15 steals and forced 21 turnovers on their way to a 69-58 victory at Case Gym.
“We were just lousy in every way,” Coach Joe Jones said. “[The players] weren’t great; I wasn’t great. We didn’t practice well yesterday, which was a bad sign. We had no energy. The turnovers killed us. Especially at that pace. We were not at the top of our game.”
BU did come out with energy in the opening minutes. Walter Whyte (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Tyler Scanlon (9 points, 9 rebounds) controlled the glass and leading-scorer Cedric Hankerson made two 3-pointers to help the Terriers to open up a 24-16 cushion. However, Hankerson picked up his second foul with 5:51 to go in the first half, and spent the rest of the half on the bench. Then, the Terriers turned the ball over four straight possessions.
Nelson took advantage of the miscues, scoring six points and making two steals during the decisive stretch to give American a 29-24 halftime lead.
“I gotta give them some credit but also I just thought we were just trying to make some plays,” Jones said. “We couldn’t score. They got hands on balls. There were times when we should have just taken it to the rim and score it. I thought we overpassed and then we didn’t overpass. It was just one of those games. It left it open for them to make plays.”
Hankerson (14 points, 7 rebounds) provided a spark in the beginning of the second half when he scored six points and nearly came up with three steals on dives and deflections. Back-to-back layups from Max Mahoney (10 points) and Javante McCoy brought BU back and tied the game at 41 apiece with 10:42 left before Nelson and Iorio took over. The duo each hit a 3-pointer along with freshman Marvin Bragg to give American a 50-41 lead.
After the Terriers cut the deficit to five on two separate occasions, Iorio answered both runs with a 3-pointer. His fifth three of the game with 1:59 remaining gave the Eagles an 11-point lead, and proved to be the final nail in the coffin for BU.
“Sam was the player of the game,” Jones said. “He was awesome. He made every big shot. He was tremendous tonight.”
BU and American both shot 48.1 percent from the field and the Terriers won the rebounding battle 35-24. But the difference was in the turnovers; 21-12 in favor of the visitors.
“Tonight we were just not on top of our game,” Jones said. “It happens. We got to regroup and get ready for Navy.”
BU next plays at Navy on Saturday at 2 p.m.