By: Liam O’Brien
To be successful in modern college basketball, you need to have multiple players on your team capable of getting a bucket.
It can’t just be one guy. Take last season’s national champs, for example. Villanova had three first round picks and its floor general, Jalen Brunson, is excelling for the Dallas Mavericks after being selected in the second round.
The previous champions, North Carolina, had a similarly deep roster with a plethora of members providing key moments.
The Boston University men’s basketball team showed some resemblance to the previous two NCAA champions in Saturday evening’s 72-65 comeback victory over Loyola Maryland. These Terriers (13-16, 6-10 Patriot League) are far from a championship team, but they are beginning to display signs of cohesion at the perfect time.
“We found a way to get a win,” BU head coach Joe Jones said. “Sometimes, you just have to find ways. Good teams are able to do that.”
Four different players scored in double figures and freshman Jonas Harper (seven points) hit a go-ahead three with 53 seconds left to carry BU to its second straight win.
“Everybody just tells me to keep on shooting,” Harper said. “I practice shooting every day, and they just keep telling me to shoot it.”
The Terriers score sheet has gone from being dominated by junior forward Max Mahoney to exhibiting the rising confidence of Mahoney’s supporting cast.
“Been a lot better the last couple of games,” Mahoney said. “Feel like the bench has really been into the game. Giving us a lot of energy, which is great. Getting the job done getting buckets and scoring when they can.”
Classmate Tyler Scanlon scored 14 points, including six crucial points in the last five minutes. Sophomore guard Javante McCoy netted 13 points and his corner three with 3:12 left gave BU a 59-57 advantage. Redshirt freshman guard Alex Vilarino did not miss a shot, making all four of his field goal attempts and all three free throws for 12 points. His foul shots with 21 seconds left all but put the game out of reach, giving the Terriers a five-point cushion.
“We all teach each other something and we all shine in different ways,” Harper said. “Everybody contributes in their own way.”
When BU lost to the Greyhounds in mid-January, they had just three players register at least 10 points. Scanlon and Vilarino combined for just 10. Meanwhile, Loyola Maryland had five players with double-digit numbers. Mahoney’s 31-point effort in the defeat was exhilarating but varied scoring efforts win games.
“Definitely a combination of guys,” Mahoney said. “We have seen nights where [sophomore] Andrew Petcash has lit it up from three, Jonas Harper has lit it up from three or just found other ways to help us win. Guys like [sophomore] Sukhmail Mathon don’t get a lot of credit, but he is tipping balls out, helping us get offensive boards.”
BU learned the value of balance at Case Gym Saturday. This time, Loyola Maryland struggled to find offerings from anyone not named Isaiah Hart (25 points) or Andrew Kostecka (16 points). Besides these two premium scorers, not a single Greyhound notched more than six points.
If the Terriers want to keep their confidence rolling, each player has to trust their shot and believe they can make an impact.
“Other guys [are] just stepping in, getting the job done,” Mahoney said.