By: Liam O’Brien
As a freshman, guard Javante McCoy might have gotten down on himself after suffering through an ice cold first half like he did against Northeastern in the Boston University men’s basketball season opener on Tuesday night.
The second-year guard struggled in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 1-for-5 from the field, 0-for-2 from three-point range and 1-for-2 from the free throw line for a stat line of three points, two rebounds and one assist.
In these situations, it’s easy for players to drop their heads and assume the night just isn’t for them.
McCoy has a different mentality. He rebounded in a ferocious fashion, scoring 10 points in the final 5:37 to lead the Terriers (1-0) to an upset 77-74 victory over the Huskies at Matthews Arena.
“I love that kid,” head coach Joe Jones said. “He struggled for a good portion of that game but he stayed confident. Coming out of the huddle, he was like, ‘We got to stay aggressive.”
McCoy’s ability to overcome this first-half adversity reflects his growth in the mental aspect of the game.
“I talked to his dad earlier this month and told him, ‘He’s really matured a ton this year,” Jones said. “Just as a person. That’s what great about coaching, just watching players develop and mature.”
When McCoy subbed into the game for sophomore Andrew Petcash with 7:51 remaining, BU found themselves trailing, 59-54. They were on the heels of a 6-0 run but were in need of one final scoring push to get them over the hump.
McCoy provided this lift. After netting his first point of the second half on a free throw attempt with 5:21 left, he knocked down a critical three-pointer from the top of the key to bring BU to within 68-62 with 4:29 to go.
“He was very loose and confident,” Jones said. “He’s taken a step. He didn’t have a great first half, he had a great second half.”
This long-range conversion injected the Philips Exeter product with a jolt of confidence. Two minutes later, he swished a jumper to cut the deficit to 70-65. On the subsequent BU possession, he kicked the ball out to freshman forward Jordan Guest on the wing for a clutch three-pointer to narrow the gap to 70-68 with 1:38 remaining.
McCoy was not finished. After the Terriers managed another stop, McCoy stood in the corner as junior forward Tyler Scanlon held the ball at the elbow. Noticing a gaping hole underneath the basket, McCoy cut backdoor and finished an acrobatic layup off a Scanlon assist to put his team ahead, 71-70 with 48 ticks left on the clock.
He then put the icing on the cake at the game’s conclusion, nailing two foul shots with conviction to make it a 77-74 game with seven seconds left. Making both was crucial as it forced Northeastern guard Vasa Pusica to heave up a contested three to tie instead of having the luxury of driving to the rim to force overtime.
Being able to lean on McCoy in crunch time could go a long way in the Terriers pulling out close contests this season.