Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Terriers heat up, finish off Nevada in NIT finale

By Luke Coughlan/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s basketball team lost the battle of the boards badly to the University of Nevada on Tuesday evening, 47-32. However, in an ironic twist of fate, it was solid rebounding by the Terriers toward the end of the contest that iced BU’s third win of the season and second victory in the Preseason National Invitational Tournament by a score of 66-57.

Nursing a six point lead with just under two minutes to play, the Terriers (3-3) managed to pull in the final six boards of the contest and ultimately run out the clock on Nevada’s (1-4) comeback. Senior guard John Holland, junior forward Patrick Hazel, and freshman guard D.J. Irving combined for the final six rebounds, with the first two coming during an offensive possession in which the Terriers went 0-2 from the field, but managed to grab the offensive rebound after every miss.

During the possession, the Terriers managed to run nearly a full minute off of the Wolf Pack’s comeback clock, and after nailing five of their final seven free throws, earned their third win of the season.

While the Terriers won most categories besides rebounding by the end of the game, the contest was still an up and down affair.

BU started the game on par with the Wolf Pack. At 14:24, the game was tied at 11 a piece, with the Terriers having led up until that point. However, Nevada went on a 6-0 run over the next 4:10 and ran out to a 17-11 lead. Half way through the first half, the Terriers were a combined 4-17 shooting and had picked up where they left off against Hampton University the night before, when they shot .250 for the game.

It was only a matter of time, however, before Holland, the team’s points leader with 19.0 per game, would find the rhythm that he had been missing so desperately in recent playing time. When the clock read 6:36 remaining in the first half, Holland was in dire need of a converted field goal. He had gone 0-for-6 in his last six attempts and 6-for-25 including his performance against Hampton. Then, something clicked.

With 5:31 remaining in the first half, Holland reached in and stole the ball from freshman guard Jordan Burris at midcourt and emphatically dunked the ball at the other end while drawing a foul. After draining the shot to complete the three point play and bring the Terriers within two, Holland never looked back.

Over the remainder of the first half, Holland scored 10 of the Terriers’ final 13 points during a 13-3 run and rode his momentum into the second, ultimately finishing with a season-high-tying 28 points on 9-23 shooting.

Once the Terriers grabbed a hold of the lead against the Wolf Pack, they were not going to give it up easily. BU carried a 32-24 advantage into the break and expanded their lead in the opening minutes of the second when Irving scored on a layup and found Hazel for twin layups for a quick six points. After allowing a layup to sophomore guard Malik Story, the Terriers answered back with another Hazel layup, this time from junior forward Jake O’Brien. O’Brien hit a long three on the Terriers’ next possession, stretching their lead to 43-29.

Over the next ten minutes, the Wolf Pack chipped away at the deficit, and the Terriers’ hot hands began to cool slightly. Nevada got three pointers from freshmen guard Deonte Burton and forward Kevin Panzer at 4:51 and 4:17 respectively to cut the lead to six. But, thanks to the Terriers’ rebounding performance to end the game, the Wolf Pack would not draw any closer.

O’Brien (15 points, 6-9 shooting) and Irving (13, 3-7) would finish with Holland as the three Terriers in double figures. Hazel finished with six points and three offensive boards, and freshman forward Dom Morris played a strong defensive game for the Terriers, earning seven rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in 18 minutes on the court.

While the game marked a welcome relief from a scoring drought, the Terriers’ stingy defense was also on display, as the Terriers held the Wolf Pack to .368 shooting and tied a season high with 11 steals.

The win marks the third game in a row in which the Terriers have held their opponents to under 60 points and the first game in their last three in which they have broken the 60 point marker themselves.

The victory also marks the third bounce back performance by the Terriers in three opportunities this season, as all of their three wins have come following losses. Most recently, the Terriers lost a heartbreaker to Hampton University, 51-50, on November 22, and pulled off the win against Nevada the following night.

The Terriers will leave Washington D.C. with a 2-2 overall record in the preseason NIT, having defeated George Washington University and Nevada while falling to Villanova and Hampton.

After playing their first six games of the season in 11 days, the Terriers will enjoy some well-deserved rest before returning to action on Saturday versus Cornell University at Case Gymnasium.

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