By: Matt Doherty
With just over a minute to play and the score tied 70-70, Vermont forward Anthony Lamb took over.
The talented junior spun into the paint and hit a tough fadeaway jumper to break the tie and put the Catamounts ahead 72-70 with 1:18 remaining.
On the ensuing defensive possession, Lamb snatched a rebound in traffic and went back to the well one more time. He spun into the paint and again banked in a shot, giving Vermont a four point advantage with 33 seconds left.
Lamb concluded his dominant stretch with a ferocious block on Terrier guard Alex Vilarino, effectively sealing the eventual 78-72 win for Vermont on Friday night in the home opener at Case Gym.
Three days after upsetting Northeastern on the road, BU fell short against a talented opponent. The difference this time around? The veteran leadership on the Vermont side rose to the occasion in the final moments against a youthful and inexperienced Terrier team.
“Two minutes left is definitely a time to lock in,” Mahoney said. “They have a lot of experienced guys and we had some miscommunication down the stretch. Experienced players from them if you give those guys the chance they’ll take advantage of it.”
But Friday’s loss should not discredit the Terriers for how they’ve looked in the opening two games. The Terriers knocked off the CAA favorite and a potential NCAA Tournament team in Northeastern in Tuesday and then pushed Vermont, a team that entered Friday’s game with a 56-11 record over the past two regular seasons to the brink.
Northeastern and Vermont might the two most talented teams on BU’s schedule all season and they went toe-to-toe with both of them.
“Boston U should get a lot of credit here,” Vermont coach John Becker said. “They play hard, they’re well coached.”
The two former America East rivals went back and forth all evening long. The Terriers led by six midway through the first half, but Vermont responded with a 13-0 run before BU closed the half on a 12-4 run of its own.
The second half featured more haymakers. BU led by ten, 54-44, with with under 13 minutes to go, but Vermont went on a 15-2 streak, setting up a thrilling finish.
Tyler Scanlon, who continued to impress offensively, nailed a three-pointer to put the Terriers up five, before Lamb helped Vermont take control.
“They’re very good,” coach Joe Jones said about Vermont. “They have some really good players. They know what they’re doing. They know how to win those types of game and we have to learn.”
The Terriers played eleven men for the second game in a row, something Becker noted as a difficult situation to prepare for.
Max Mahoney looked like his 2017-18 self, finishing with 18 points on 7-12 shooting, Scanlon scored 17 points in 34 minutes, and Javante McCoy scored 10 points. But it was the newcomers, who once again impressed.
Garrett Pascoe had four assists and made a few noteworthy passes, Jack Hemphill knocked down a three-pointer, Jonas Harper and Vilarino were aggressive attacking the paint, and Fletcher Tynen impressed again with 8 points and solid defense.
The fluidity of the offense between all eleven guys was a big reason why BU nearly beat the epitome of the mid-major model in Vermont.
The groups of guards (Pascoe, McCoy, Vilarino) combined for eleven assists and one turnover.
“They’re just winners man,” Jones said about his freshmen. “If you’re around them you’re gonna know it. They’re guys that played at winning programs and guys that are here for the right reason and want to be part of something special. Something bigger than themselves. We don’t have that ego. This is great culture that we’ve built so far.”
And by the way Jones was talking postgame, he feels this group will not only be able to win games like this in the near future but accomplish even more.
On Friday, the Terriers were a play or two away from opening up the season 2-0 with marquee wins over Northeastern and Vermont.
But the fact they were even this close to knocking off those two teams in the first place, shows the BU program is heading in the right direction.
“This game is gonna really help us,” Jones said. “It’s gonna make us a better team. Cause I know they’re gonna learn from this. That’s the cool thing about them. They want this. And they want to do it together.”