By: Greg Levinsky and Matt Doherty
BOSTON — For the first time since December 2015, the Boston University Men’s Basketball team fell to Patriot League and instate rival Holy Cross. The loss rounds out a down week for the Terriers, who have now dropped three conference games in a row dating back to last Saturday’s loss to Lehigh.
Despite an early nine-point lead against Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon, the Terriers (12-13, 8-6 Patriot League) could not recover from multiple eight points runs by the Crusaders (9-16, 6-8 PL), including a 10-0 burst midway through the second half, falling 73-62 at Case Gym.
“I’ve got to take the full responsibility for the way we’re looking right now,” said Boston University Head Coach Joe Jones. “As the leader of our program, this is on me. It starts with me. We’re not competing hard enough, today we had very little idea how to be successful against Holy Cross.”
Holy Cross Freshman forward Jacob Grandison opened the contest with a bucket, then Terrier sophomore Tyler Scanlon nailed a 3-pointer.
Scanlon, who holds career averages of nearly 12 points and six rebounds per game against the Crusaders, kept BU alive early, hitting another triple before the media timeout. His strike came after Grandison and classmate Austin Butler combined on a 6-0 run for Holy Cross. Butler scored a pair of buckets and assisted on a Grandison layup. Scanlon finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
After an offensive rebound and put-back by senior guard Will Goff on his own missed free-throw gave the Terriers an 11-10 lead, Holy Cross freshman Austin Butler, who added 11 points, scored.
“Their coach had their team much more prepared and ready to play,” Jones said. “I’ve got to look at myself in the mirror, it starts with me.”
Terrier senior guard Cedric Hankerson, who returned from a five-game absence due to injury and played 28 minutes, scored a pair of buckets on a 6-0 run. Hankerson hit a pair of free throws with 6:47 left in the first half to give the Terriers their largest lead at nine.
“We were trying to play him 20 [minutes] in his first game back,” Jones said. “We didn’t want to do it, but there was a need for it.”
The Crusaders followed with an 8-0 run, capped off with Grandison entering double digits; twelve of his 16 points came before the end of the first half.
Hankerson scored on the other end of a timeout with 3:09 left in the first half to give BU a 27-24 lead. Holy Cross closed with an 8-2 run, ending the first half with a 32-29 advantage thanks to a steal and buzzer-beating layup by junior guard Patrick Benzan.
Holy Cross was without its second leading scorer, junior Karl Charles, and rotational sophomores Will Powers and Jack Stevens for the second game. Each were suspended indefinitely by the school due to investigation of potential NCAA violations.
After a combined seven lead changes and ties, Holy Cross freshman guard Caleb Green drove the lane for the first multiple possession lead of the second half, 43-39, with 15:14 left. BU’s deficit stretched to double digits, 49-39, on a thunderous tomahawk jam by Crusader junior forward Jehyve Floyd with just over 12 minutes left. Floyd led Holy Cross with 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
BU cut it within five on a Scanlon 3-pointer, but the Crusaders followed with a 6-0 push for a 55-44 lead on a score by Benzan – who finished with 15 points – with 6:41 left. The Terriers cut the deficit to as little as seven with under a minute to play, but could not climb all the way back.
“We didn’t do a great job preparing the team,” Jones said. “We didn’t do a great job of executing the game plan.”
A win over Loyola Maryland back on January 31 improved the health-ridden Terriers to 8-3 in the Patriot League, and put them in clear possession of second place with just seven games remaining.
But since the victory, BU has three consecutive losses.
A week after the Loyola win, the Terriers dropped their second game in that three-game stretch, a 74-60 loss to Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y.
In that Wednesday fixture, freshman Walter Whyte (10.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG) sat out with a bum ankle. Once again, the Terriers played with just nine healthy bodies.
BU led by three points with under two minutes remaining at Lehigh on Saturday, but succumbed an 80-75 defeat. On Wednesday, the Terriers trailed by two possessions for most of the second half, and even tied the game at 54 before Colgate pulled away late.
“We got out-toughed down the stretch,” Coach Jones said after the Wednesday night loss. “We didn’t make any plays on the defensive side. They got every loose ball, big rebounds. That was the difference in the game. They made plays down the stretch for the second game in a row and we didn’t.”
The Terriers trailed by double-digits on separate occasions in the first half against Colgate, but fought back to make a game of it. Sophomore Max Mahoney led BU with 15 points and 5 rebounds while classmate Tyler Scanlon had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists against the Raiders.
BU out-shot Colgate 49 percent to 47 percent, but the lack of depth and size with the absences of Whyte and Hankerson plagued Jones’ team. Colgate out-rebounded BU 32-24 and scored 17 more points off the bench.
“Overall we’re executing, but right now we’re not getting stops,” Jones said after the loss. “We didn’t get stops in the zone. But we just hit the wall and we couldn’t overcome it. We’re going to have to get tougher. They out-rebounded us and got more 50-50 balls. When that happens we’re not going to win.”
The Terriers have spent the majority of conference play alone in second place but are now looking up at Colgate.
BU will next face tenth-place American (2-11 PL, 5-19) in D.C. on Wednesday. The game provides a golden opportunity for the Terriers to pick up a key win against the bottom of the league, while Colgate takes on league-leading Bucknell and a red-hot Lehigh team in their next two fixtures.