By: Matthew Doherty
BOSTON — When junior point guard Kamali Chambers netted a right-corner 3-pointer to give Boston University a 33-32 lead with just over 17 minutes left, the opportunity was there for the Terriers to put an end to their recent struggles and pick up a pivotal conference win over second-place Navy.
But from that point on, the veteran Mids outscored BU 30-15 en route to a convincing 62-48 victory at Case Gym to spoil Senior Day on Saturday afternoon. The Terriers made just five field goals after Chamber’s bucket, and scored a season-low 48 points. They’ve now lost five straight games after starting 8-3 in the Patriot League.
“Right now there’s a lot of emotion when you’ve failed as many times as we have,” Head Coach Joe Jones said. “It’s tough. It’s tough on everybody. We all have to take responsibility. Tonight we physically got man handled.”
Navy took control in the first half thanks to a 16-3 run that put them ahead 30-19 with two minutes remaining. However, consecutive 3-pointers by Will Goff and Tyler Scanlon injected life into BU, and helped them trim the halftime deficit to five.
The Terriers carried their energetic play over to the beginning of the second half where Max Mahoney scored four straight points and Chambers hit the 3-pointer to give the hosts their lead first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
With leading scorers Cedric Hankerson and Mahoney together on the bench for five minutes, the Navy lead ballooned from three to eight. By the time the duo came back on the court, the Mids figured out how to attack the BU 2-3 zone, while the Terrier offense sputtered.
Navy stretched the lead to 14 points with six minutes to go on easy driving layups from Hassan Abdullah (13 points) and Shawn Anderson (13 points).
The Mids are known for their defensive prowess and they showed it Saturday. Navy held BU to 38 percent shooting, forced 16 turnovers, and scored 16 points off those turnovers.
The 48 points were the lowest a Jones-led team has scored in his five regular seasons in the Patriot League.
“They denied passes and completely threw us out on what we wanted to run,” Jones said. “We couldn’t get into a rhythm. It was going to be an ugly game and that’s the way now people have played us. They’ve changed defenses, and switch back and forth. They’re not going to let us get into a flow, and they pressure us and deny us. We’ve got to learn now how to combat that.”
Saturday marked the fourth game in a row that freshman wing Walter Whyte has missed with an ankle injury. The Terriers have failed to score over 62 points in each game without Whyte.
Hankerson (11 points) and Mahoney (10 points) were the only Terriers in double figures. Meanwhile, the Mids had five players in double-digits including junior Mo Lewis, who came into the game averaging 1.0 PPG in 32 total minutes this season. The forward erupted for 12 points and 8 rebounds in 17 minutes.
BU is still looking for a third scoring option behind Mahoney and Hankerson. With Whyte out, the Terriers need a herculean effort from both of them to score 70-plus points. They had no help on Saturday.
Will Goff scored just 3 points in 31 minutes, Nick Havener didn’t score, and Tyler Scanlon had 8 points. BU needs that trio to combine for more than 11 points to win.
“When guys are open, we’re not doing a good enough job of sharing the ball,” Jones said.
“We struggled to play with toughness. We had a hard time creating good opportunities. We got to get better decision making out of our guards. We have to make an adjustment.”
If red-hot Lehigh wins Saturday night against Army, the Terriers would fall into sole possession of fifth place with two conference games remaining. Two weeks ago, BU was sitting comfortably in second-place. Now, they are in danger of not even getting a home game in the quarterfinals.
The loss also ruined senior day for the Terriers where Hankerson, Havener, Goff and Eric Johnson were honored.
BU will play their home finale on Wednesday vs. Lafayette before rounding out the regular season schedule at Army next Saturday. Jones and his team are desperate to gain some type of momentum before they head into the Patriot League tournament in a short week and a half.
“We got to take responsibility,” Jones said. “It starts with me. I have to take credit for us struggling right now. I think right now we have to take a day and come back on Monday ready to go and try to get better.
“We got to have a game plan moving forward. First thing is we have to look in the mirror and understand there are things we have to do to improve it. We have to take responsibility.”