By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA — In an uncharacteristically rough outing for star forward Max Mahoney, third-seeded Boston University men’s basketball was tested by no. 6 Navy in the Patriot League quarterfinals on Thursday.
But Walter Whyte and Javante McCoy stepped up in the second half to help the Terriers (19-13, 13-6 PL) win 69-63 over the Midshipmen (14-16, 8-11 PL). BU advances to the semifinals where they will play host again to no. 7 Bucknell.
McCoy (19) and Whyte (18) combined for 37 points with 26 coming in the second half, finding their rhythm and aggressively pushing the pace.
“We got into a rhythm on the defensive end first, and that’s kinda what got us going in transition,” Whyte said. “Getting easy baskets, offensive rebounds, layups, that’s kinda what gets us going. Little baskets like that.”
Getting into a flow was critical for the Terriers, who once again struggled out of the gate. Navy led by as much as 12 in the first half, and while BU allowed only 31 points, the offense scored just 27.
Head coach Joe Jones reflected on the slow start, and after a long pause, said he “would have to think about” changing up the routine. Jones noted that, at this point, he does not doubt the focus or conviction of his players at tip-off.
“The other games against American and Bucknell, I just thought defensively we weren’t ready to go,” he said. “Tonight we were ready to go, just offensively we struggled. I gotta take a look — I don’t know the answer.”
A critical factor in the offensive struggle was the Navy shutdown of Max Mahoney. The 2020 All-Patriot League First Team member scored just nine points — his lowest total since January 18 — and made three of his 12 looks. Jones thought Mahoney’s timing was “a little off” on Thursday, but added that his team needs to put the senior in better positions for easy finishes.
“I’d like to get him in different areas on the floor,” he said. “I think at times we’re struggling to get him easy ones where he can catch it and lay it in. We have to work on that.”
Javante McCoy, however, used his burst and athleticism to take over the second half with Whyte. The junior’s 15 second-half points led BU, and he drilled some pivotal step-back jumpers to put the Terriers in front.
“When you have a guy like that who can make shots when the offense breaks down, that’s huge,” Jones said. “We haven’t always had that.”
On the other end, BU largely contained the most prolific Midshipman: All-Patriot League Second Team honoree Cam Davis. Davis managed 13 points, but it took him 18 shots to get there, and he made just one of his eight three-point attempts. Though Jones threw a number of different Terrier defenders at him, it was Jonas Harper who guarded Davis the most and was most successful.
Harper, who also scored 11 points behind three triples, has been up-and-down from deep while typically guarding the opposition’s best guard. Fatigue could be a factor, according to Jones.
“Jonas really gets our defense going,” he said. “We tried to take him out and give him some minutes to rest because he was going so hard. We have to be careful with that because we need him to make shots down the stretch.”
Many expected the team to hit the road, but BU will instead host their semifinal matchup after Bucknell pulled off a shocking 64-59 upset over American. From a spectator’s perspective, BU benefits greatly from the plot twist. But for the team, they’ll continue to focus simply on the opponent in front of them, with the game scheduled for Sunday at noon.
“We’re onto the next one,” Whyte said. “We’re not thinking about the championship game — just the one in front of us right now.”