By: Greg Levinsky
The Boston University men’s basketball team looked to close its non-conference slate with a victory over a flailing Bethune-Cookman University squad on Friday.
Instead, the visiting Wildcats (5-9) infiltrated Case Gym for their first road win of the 2018-19 season with a 74-66 win over the host Terriers (7-6).
“My biggest fears came true,” Boston University head coach Joe Jones said. “I thought if we couldn’t contain them off the dribble it would be really tough for us, and we were not on top of our game.”
The Terriers fell to 3-2 at Case Gym. Their nonconference slate was road heavy, including a six-game trip. After starting the season 0-7 on the road, Bethune-Cookman enters MEAC play on a high note.
BCU’s top big Cletrell Pope picked up his second foul just under four minutes in, but the the rest of the Wildcats did an admirable job neutralizing Max Mahoney with double-teams on every touch. The Terriers leading scorer and reigning Patriot League Player of the Week scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the first half, but the Wildcats didn’t make it easy.
“They force you to play a different way, they speed you up,” Jones said. “Now you’ve got to make decisions, and you can’t just run your stuff. You’ve got to be able just to play, and we struggled with that.”
Pope had seven double-doubles in his previous 10 appearances, but spent over eight first half minutes on the bench saddled with foul trouble. He ended his night by fouling out just under midway through the second half with merely three points and as many rebounds.
The Wildcats took their first lead midway through the first half on a jumper by junior Wali Parks. He then hit a 3-pointer with 3:22 left in the first half, and Terriers sophomore guard Javante McCoy was called for a technical foul on the ensuing inbounds play.
Suddenly, the Wildcats had a 31-23 lead. However, the Terriers scored the final six points of the first half to cut it to 31-29 on a buzzer-beating tip by Mahoney.
BU tied it early in the second half, but a layup by Shawntrez Davis punctuated a 10-0 BCU run over a 2:28 stretch, putting the Terriers in a 44-34 hole with 16:17 to play.
And when the Terriers got it back within a seven, there was Davis again, nailing back-to-back triples. He fouled out when these teams met in Daytona Beach last year. This time, the 6-foot-9 forward poured in 13 points including the key triples and a thunderous dunk.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Jones said. “They impeded their will on the game.”
But again, the Terriers clawed back, this time with a 14-3 run. Freshman Jack Hemphill’s shot from distance cut the deficit to just one, 56-55, with under seven minutes to play. That’s as close as it got. BU cut it its deficit to a single point twice, but the Wildcats continually answered.
“We just weren’t on top of our game and it showed,” Jones said.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky