By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Almost felt tempted to give the Terriers a higher grade for their offensive efforts, due in large part to their combined 40 percent shooting from the field, nearly seven percentage points higher than the opposing Vikings. BU had three players in double figures, as senior guard Darryl Partin scored a game-high 24 points, senior forward Patrick Hazel tallied 15 points and sophomore guard D.J. Irving contributed 13 points of his own. But only two other players generated the rest of BU’s 10 points in the contest: sophomore forwards Dom Morris (eight points) and Travis Robinson (two points). The Terriers’ abysmal performance from 3-point territory was their undoing and deserving of their C grade. Collectively, BU was 2-of-13 shooting the 3-ball with Partin knocking down its only treys – back-to-back triples in a 36-second span – early on in the second half. To make matters even more one-sided, he attempted all seven of the Terriers’ second-half 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Travis Robinson, freshman guard Zach Chionuma and senior guard Matt Griffin came up empty on their 3s in the first half. On positive notes, Hazel netted his career-high 15 points on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting, including two dunks, and BU converted a number of layups and alley-oops that yielded its 45 shooting percentage and an 11-point lead at one juncture in the final frame.
Hazel epitomized BU’s hard-nosed defense against Cleveland State. The America East’s All-Defensive Team honoree posted a game-high five blocks and altered many other shots throughout the non-conference matchup. The Terriers held a bruising Vikings squad to 21 points in the first half alone and forced it into committing an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers overall. For the most part, BU held Cleveland State’s best offensive weapon, guard D’Aundary Brown, in check, limiting him to 14 points, two points below his season average. Robinson played some good defense at that end of the floor, and freshman forward James Kennedy, Griffin and Irving clogged the lane, intercepted a variety of passes and utilized their instincts multiple times to poke the ball free from their man. The Terriers, as a team, recorded nine steals. Despite out-rebounding the University of Texas and Cornell University in its last two games, BU failed in keeping Cleveland State off the boards. The Vikings out-rebounded the Terriers, 41-34. BU would have cracked the A- plateau, but it allowed CSU to collect 20 offensive rebounds, compared to BU’s 11, and turn those extra offensive opportunities into 14 second-chance points. In a game that was decided by a mere point, those additional possessions made all the difference for the Vikings.
There’s no doubt about this F grade for the Terriers’ reserves. They earned it. BU’s starting lineup of Hazel, Morris, Partin, Irving and Robinson scored all 62 of its points. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the bench’s showing against Cleveland State. Robinson replaced Griffin in the starting five, moving Griffin back to his normal spot as the Terriers’ sixth man, a decision Jones said postgame was made because he “wanted to make sure we had one guy rested while the other guy was playing” with two more games left against the University of Rhode Island and Hofstra University this weekend. Playing 26 minutes off the bench, five more than Robinson, Griffin finished with zero points on 0-of-3 shooting from the field, three assists and four turnovers. His fourth turnover in the game’s waning seconds on an inbounds play proved to be a costly mistake. He tried to force the ball into Partin, who was covered by his defender near the free-throw line. Griffin proceeded to trip up Cleveland State’s Jeremy Montgomery, who had picked up the loose ball. Montgomery drained both freebies to secure the Vikings’ 63-62 win. In a moment of panic on the inbounds pass, Griffin forgot that the Terriers still had one timeout remaining. Excluding Griffin, BU's bench played a total of 17 points and missed the three shots and two free throws it took as a unit. CSU thoroughly out-scored BU's bench by a margin of 23-0, and that telling stat by itself warrants an F grade for the Terriers.
X-Factor: Missed free throws ... again
In what has becoming a recurring theme for the Terriers, they can’t get their shots to drop from the charity stripe when they need them to the most. And Friday versus Cleveland State was no different, as BU shot an anemic 63.6 percent (28-of-44) from the free-throw line, including 12 pivotal misses in the second half. Partin, the Terriers’ top scorer on the afternoon, epitomized those struggles, missing six of his 12 free throws, but he wasn’t alone. Morris missed three free throws, Hazel four, Irving one and senior center Jeff Pelage two. Take a look at what transpired during an 85-second stretch with 5:25 remaining in the ballgame: Partin and Hazel combined to miss four straight FTs with the Terriers nursing a five-point lead, and the Vikings in the midst of their furious rally. All Jones could do was shake his head in disbelief at the missed freebies, and for the few BU fans in attendance at the Ryan Center, it all looked too familiar. Against Northeastern University back on Nov. 11th, BU left the door open for the Huskies to force overtime and eventually win the contest when it missed its free throws late. CSU stayed in the game because BU couldn’t convert its freebies, especially Partin, who had a chance to ice the game with 13 seconds to go and his team up by three. Two makes would have made it a five-point edge, but Partin missed the back end. The Terriers knew full well that they couldn’t miss all those free-throw attempts and expect to beat the Vikings. Instead, their FT misses all added up in the end and enabled the Vikings to escape with a win they had no business getting. Because of its poor showing from the free-throw line, BU finds itself winless. If the Terriers could only knock down their free throws this season, they’d at least be sitting at 2-2 right now and not at 0-4.