Friday, November 11, 2011

Same story, different chapter: Northeastern narrowly tops BU, 82-74, in overtime

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

For two basketball programs in Boston University and Northeastern University that experienced so much change in the offseason, Friday night's game, by most accounts, carried an eery sense of deja vu.

Just as it was last season, with both teams opening the season against one another in front of an intense crowd, the Terriers and Huskies played a largely back-and-forth game, one defined by runs made by both teams in a contest that wasn't decided until the bitter end.

And ultimately, in a game marred by similarities, the result proved to be the same as Northeastern defeated BU 82-74 in overtime in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,875, the largest in Case Gymnasium history.

"Just another boring Northeastern-BU game, right?" Northeastern head coach Bill Coen quipped after the game.

The game served as an unveiling of sorts for the BU program, as it was the Terriers' first game under new head coach Joe Jones.

Despite the coaching change, the offense played out as many expected coming into the season, as leading returning scorer Darryl Partin scored a game-high 25 points and sophomore point guard D.J. Irving added 17 points, albeit in a losing effort.

"We're going to take a lot from this game and really try to get better," Jones said. "We're really going to try to use this game to help us."

Though the teams were forced to play the extra session, with about five minutes remaining in the game, it appeared as though the only remaining drama would be the Huskies' (1-0) final margin of victory, as Northeastern led 62-51 after two made free throws by forward Kauri Black with 4:53 remaining in the game.

However, from there, BU scored 12 unanswered points, a run that climaxed with a 3-pointer from senior guard Matt Griffin that gave the Terriers a 63-62 lead with just over a minute left.

After a pair of free throws from guard Joel Smith gave Northeastern a 64-63 lead on the next possession, BU had a chance to regain the lead, but Partin only made one of two free throws and the game went into overtime.

"I think we just fought hard, kept our heads up and had a good attitude," Irving said. "We were in that position last year so it was nothing new to us."

Once overtime began, however, much of the Terriers' momentum quickly withered away as the period dragged on.

Nursing a 72-69 lead with 2:16 remaining after an Irving lay-up, Northeastern went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes, with an alley-oop dunk from forward Kashief Edwards with 15 seconds remaining serving as the proverbial exclamation point for the Huskies' victory.

For a BU team that missed five of its nine shots and two of its four free throws in overtime, the small shooting mistakes came back to hurt the team in a big way.

"We missed some big free throws," Partin said. "The game was there for us, it was there."

While the missed field goals and free throws were crucial, the Terriers were largely undone by one of the team's primary foundations -- rebounding. In sum, BU was outrebounded 52-32 on the game, with a 19-12 disparity on the offensive glass.

From those rebounds, Northeastern got 22 second-chance points, something that proved to be a major difference in such a close game.

"With the make-up of their team, I thought they would try to attack inside and I was not surprised by the glass," Jones said. "We went into the game knowing that was probably going to tell the tale of who was going to win the game -- who controlled the backboard -- and obviously, they did."

With the Terriers scheduled make the trip tomorrow morning to Austin, Texas, for a Sunday matchup against the University of Texas, the team will try to take to heart the lessons of their season opener as they look to progress and get adjusted to a new coach and new system.

"It was great, it was a great game in terms of being an early game of the season against a terrific opponent," Jones said. "Like I said, if we make some plays down the stretch, it's a completely different story."

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