By René Reyes
On most nights, senior guard Corey Lowe, junior forward John Holland and sophomore forward Jake O’Brien fill up the stat sheet for the Boston University men’s basketball team.
Saturday night was an exception.
Senior co-captain Carlos Strong stole the spotlight, scoring a season-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting to lead BU to a dominating 68-53 win over the University at Albany at SEFCU Arena.
The Portland, Maine native shot 5-of-7 from 3-point range and contributed four rebounds, one assist and three blocks in 24 minutes to solidify the Terriers’ (13-11, 8-4 America East) second straight victory and regular season sweep of the Great Danes (6-20, 1-10 AE).
“Carlos was very steady tonight and has been playing consistently well over the past few games,” said BU coach Patrick Chambers. “It was great to see him get rewarded for his play tonight.”
Holland (18 points) and O’Brien (10 points) also reached double figures, while senior guard Tyler Morris – fresh off a 12-point performance against the University of New Hampshire last Thursday – tallied only five points but dished out a team-high five assists.
Not starting for the second consecutive game this season, Lowe grabbed a team-high eight rebounds but netted just eight points, missing 10 of the 13 shots he took and going 0-for-7 from behind the arc.
“He handled [the decision to come off the bench] like a true senior, like a true leader,” Chambers said last week of Lowe, BU’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,689 career points. “He’s been starting his whole career, and I felt like we needed something off the bench. We needed a spark off the bench…someone who’s going to come in and just score. That’s all I want him to do – come in and score, be our scorer and play hard.
“He was playing 39 to 40 minutes a game for eight games. That’s a lot of minutes. I talked to him about it and he said whatever it’s going to take for us to win. That showed his character and showed his true colors.”
Freshman guard Mike Black posted team-highs of 18 points and four assists for an Albany team whose losing streak reached seven games.
Junior guard Tim Ambrose and senior forward Will Harris – Albany’s top two leading scorers – were held to seven and four points, respectively, on a combined 4-of-11 shooting.
“I felt like we did a pretty good job on Ambrose,” Chambers said. “He got hurt at some point in the second half, and [Albany coach Will Brown] is bringing Harris off the bench. [Brown’s] not playing them for 30 minutes now… But we played pretty good team defense tonight.”
BU entered the intermission with a 34-26 lead. Keyed by Strong’s 7-0 personal run that featured two treys and a dunk early in the second session, the Terriers stretched their advantage to 16 with 17:50 left to play.
On the Terriers’ next offensive possession, Holland drained a 3-pointer to extend BU’s largest cushion of the game to 19 points, 45-26.
The Great Danes shot 34 percent (18-for-53) from the field and 31.8 percent (7-for-22) from 3-point land in the contest, as BU’s overpowering defense forced Albany into taking bad shots and into committing 21 turnovers.
Having played in its final conference road matchup of the season, BU is looking forward to its three-game homestand, which starts on Tuesday night against the University of Vermont at Agganis Arena.
“I would say that we didn’t like getting into the month of January when we had seven or eight games in 23 days because that’s a very difficult schedule,” Chambers said. “It’ll be nice to sleep in our own beds. We’ll have people supporting us [at home] and that’ll be good for our team and our players.”