By Luke Coughlan/DFP Staff
The Boston University men’s basketball team held a lead for all of three minutes and forty-one seconds in its game against St. Joseph’s University on Tuesday evening. But it was all it would need to come away with its first victory in over three weeks, secure its first win over an Atlantic-10 opponent at Agganis Arena and reestablish a winning trend heading into a holiday break.
The Terriers (5-7) played from behind all night long, falling behind by 12 points when the gap was at its largest, but they performed with poise and confidence when it mattered most en route to a hard fought 85-79 victory.
“We’ve really been struggling when it comes to end-of-game situations, closing a team out,” said senior forward John Holland. “Today it finally came together, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. We just need to keep moving forward. We had a lot of time to prepare, so we were ready for this game, so it’s good to come out with a win, especially before Christmas.”
Holland, who shot 6-for-14 and contributed 19 total points and eight rebounds, was instrumental in the late stages of the contest when the Terriers went on a 32-14 run to close out the game.
BU found itself with its largest deficit of the night with 10:34 to play after Hawks freshman guard Langston Galloway stuck a 3-point shot that pushed the score to 65-53. The Terriers had already put together a smaller run earlier in the game when they were down by nine with three minutes remaining in the first half. They managed to score eight straight to cut the deficit to one before halftime, and were poised to turn on the jets again at the end of the game down by 12 points.
Holland accounted for three assists, four rebounds and six points in the game’s final 10:34. Four of those points came from the charity stripe, as Holland was successful in drawing fouls on drives to the basket throughout the night.
“John carried us in that run, I thought,” said BU coach Patrick Chambers said. “When we weren’t making shots he carried us. He did some really good things, getting to the basket, not relying so much on his three. He took fourteen shots today and only three were threes. In the first eleven games, that wasn’t the case. That was reversed. So, I though he did a really good job of mixing it up and getting to the foul line. He had eight rebounds. He did some really good things. That’s what we need from him. He’s our best player. He’s our senior, and some days he’s got to put us on his back, and he did there for a stretch.”
While Holland beat the Hawks down low and on the boards, junior guard Darryl Partin did his work on the perimeter, and was the beneficiary of an assist from the senior twice on the night. Partin led all scorers with 29 points on an efficient 10-for-15 shooting effort. He went 3-for-4 during the run for nine points.
True to form, the Terriers maintained their reputation as a hot three point shooting team, but managed to mix up their plays throughout the game as well. They finished shooting at a 43.9% clip, with a deadly 56.3% mark from beyond the arc. The variety of their attack allowed them to find open shots from beyond the line when it mattered most.
With 3:18 remaining in the game and the Terriers looking for their first lead of the second half, Holland found junior forward Jake O’Brien who had a nice look from downtown that rattled through.
The bucket pushed the score to 73-71, and after two Holland free throws during the Terriers’ ensuing possession, Partin picked freshman forward Daryus Quarles’ pocket and found Holland underneath the basket on the fast break. The Hawks had hustled back to defend down low, but Holland managed to find Partin for a wide open shot from the left corner that gave the Terriers a comfortable 78-71 lead with 2:11 remaining.
The Terriers held off the Hawks by hitting seven of their last eight free throws, and wrapped up their first victory in five tries in front of the 912 in attendance at Agganis Arena. The win pushes their record at home to 3-1, while the team is still searching for their first victory on the road (0-5).
Chambers used a brand new starting lineup to begin the game, as the Terriers started O’Brien, freshman guards D.J. Irving and Mike Terry Jr., Holland and junior center Jeff Pelage. The game marked Holland’s first in the starting lineup since Dec. 4 at Bucknell University, as Chambers cited a need for more “leadership” from his senior before he would be starting again. Terry, Holland’s interim replacement in the starting five, also started the game, apparently having earned the spot in his previous two starts against La Salle University and Harvard University.
The game was also the first of the season for Pelage, who had been out for the team’s first eleven contests with a high ankle sprain. While Pelage suffered from foul trouble, drawing four personal fouls in ten minutes on the court, he was a force on defense, collecting seven rebounds and recording two blocks and a steal.
Despite the close win being one that the Terriers have been looking for all season—they were 1-4 in games decided by fewer than two possessions—Chambers reiterated the need for the team to improve, and his excitement at the fact that his team understands that they could have performed better.
“I’m happy we won the game,” he said. “We haven’t won in a while here. I’m not happy with our defense. We’ve got to get better. Once we get back here and get into league play, trying to outscore teams isn’t the way to get it done. We know that. We learned that last year. So we have to do a better job in the defensive end. We have to do a better job rebounding.
“And we will. You would think we would go [into the locker room] and guys would be jumping around and would be happy, but they weren’t. They really weren’t. It was a different feeling. They were like, ‘ok, we got a win, but we didn’t play as well as we could have.’ […] That excites me. The fact that they weren’t jumping around like this is a huge win. It was a great win, but they know that we have to get better.”