By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA — Walter Whyte made his triumphant return to the Case Gym hardwood on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 23 points while adding seven rebounds and two steals in his first action since the 2017-18 season.
But the effort was in vain. Boston University men’s basketball fell in a 72-67 thriller to cross-town rival Northeastern on opening night.
Fifth-year senior Jordan Roland stole the show with a dominant 39-point performance for the Huskies. The guard wowed both the BU players and head coach Joe Jones with his ability to nail difficult shots.
“Roland was sensational,” Jones said. “You gotta tip your hat to some of the shots he made against us.”
“Roland’s a really good player and he made a lot of contested shots,” Whyte added. “We were there, got a hand in his face … he played a great game.”
In his own right, Whyte was dynamic for the Terriers. The redshirt sophomore wing made an efficient eight shots on fourteen attempts, including four threes.
“I feel like, now, they’ll respect my shot,” Whyte said. “It’s a new aspect of my game.”
“He’s got a huge ceiling,” Jones said of the 6’6″ scorer. “This is just the start for him.”
The first half saw BU continuously stave off a hard charge from the Huskies. Whyte notched his first points in over a year on a rim-rocking dunk that invigorated the home crowd.
When asked if the dunk signaled he was “back”, Whyte slowly smiled.
“Oh yeah,” he said.
A momentary scare occurred for BU in the first half when senior forward Max Mahoney went down while fighting for a loose ball. The Terriers’ top returning scorer from 2018-19, Mahoney clutched his knee area and sat out the remainder of the half, but returned after the break to play major minutes. Mahoney logged eight points and four boards against a Northeastern defense that largely stifled the big man and limited shot opportunities.
“If we’re gonna be any good,” Jones said, “he can’t get [only] eight shots. He’s too good of a player, and some of that’s on me.”
The Huskies came out strong in the second half, shooting a blistering 56 percent from the field in the final twenty minutes. Roland led the charge, but Maxime Boursiquot and Tyson Walker also contributed; both notched double-digit points on the night.
However, BU struggled to gain momentum while the guards for Northeastern took over. Coach Jones pointed out the team’s struggles executing set plays and staying disciplined in big moments.
“I thought we struggled to focus on what we were trying to do,” Jones said. “We had some costly turnovers and I just thought — you know, one or two possessions go our way and it’s a different story.”
Both sides wrestled for the lead late in the game — tying the score twelve times in the second half — but Northeastern sealed the deal after a clutch three-pointer from wing Bolden Brace put the team up three. BU was unable to counter.
There were plenty of positives for the Terriers beyond Whyte’s play. Sophomore guard Alex Vilarino scored 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. As a whole, the team shot 49 percent from the floor. But the lack of ball movement and penetration killed most of the momentum Whyte and Vilarino generated on offense.
“We were just playing with the ball way too long,” Jones noted. “We were turning it over, taking bad shots … we practiced it and practiced it. I’m shot that we did that — absolutely shocked.”
Boston University has a quick chance to get back on track at home on Saturday against SUNY Polytechnic. The second game of the season tips off at 1:00 p.m.