By Shep Hayes/DFP Staff
ORONO, Maine – Propelled by a 50-point second half comeback, the Boston University men’s basketball game handed the University of Maine its first home loss of the 2011-12 season Wednesday night in Orono, Maine. The Terriers beat the Black Bears,77-68, with both teams moving to 2-1 records in conference play.
After BU won the opening tip-off, Maine controlled much of the first half, extending the margin of its lead to 10 points with 2:39 remaining before the halfway break. The Terriers, however, mounted a small comeback to close out the half, finishing with a spectacular half-court shot from sophomore guard D.J. Irving as time expired to cut the Black Bear lead down to only six points for the start of the second half.
“Oh, that was huge,” said senior guard Darryl Partin said of Irving's shot. “I mean, [do you want to be down by] six or nine? . . . That does something to you mentally, when you’re looking and you see than you’re down six.”
“We came into the half saying, ‘Lucky shot. We’re still up [six]. He hit it. . . . Let’s go back out and perform like we did in the first half,’” Maine’s Gerald McLemore said of the Black Bears reaction to Irving’s basket.
In the second half, BU only built off of the momentum of Irving’s shot. The Terriers scored an aforementioned 50 points in the frame, stealing the ball and getting rebounds from the Black Bears on a regular basis. After a woeful 1-for-10 performance in the first, Partin was instrumental to the BU offense in the second. Partin performed a complete turnaround, shooting 9-for-12, dropping all six of his 3-point attempts through the rim and net.
“I think he’s the type of guy, when he gets into a rhythm like that, you’ve got to try to find him,” said BU coach Joe Jones.
Partin is now the 14th best scorer by points per game in the country, averaging 20.2 points in each one of the Terriers' games. Coincidentally, he shares the 14 spot after Wednesday night’s action with Maine’s McLemore. Partin passed the 1,000-point mark Wednesday, and remains one of BU’s primary offensive weapons.
“He’s a tremendous player and we know that,” Maine coach Ted Woodward said.
But, Partin was not the Terriers’ only threat on offense; Irving had a double-double against the Black Bears. He scored only four points less than Partin and had 11 assists. Irving played a far more consistent game than Partin, driving to the hoop and entertaining the concept of a layup on a regular basis in the first and second halves.
“D.J. just did a great job getting to the lane and making plays for himself and other people,” Jones said. “We’ve been working hard on his pull-up jumper and he did a great job tonight.”
Senior guard Matt Griffin was the Terriers' third scorer in double digits, with 10 points including a pair of his trademark 3-point shots, his most notable shots.
Redshirt freshman Malik Thomas led BU with nine rebounds as the Terriers had one of their better performances of the season on the glass. BU out-rebounded Maine, 36-30, which Jones felt was the result of an increased emphasis on rebounding, something he did not think his new staff placed enough of an emphasis on at the beginning of the season.
“Rebounding has always been important to me, but it’s not something that we stressed enough, to be honest with you,” Jones said. “I thought the Quinnipiac game really helped put things in perspective for me in terms of how we were built and what we needed to do a much better job.”
On the other side of the court, the Black Bears played two much more even halves than the Terriers, scoring 33 in the first and 35 in the second. Senior forward Alasdair Fraiser led Maine with 14 points. Freshman guard Justin Edwards had 10 points, six assists and 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own. Edwards also led the Black Bears in the latter two categories. McLemore was 7-for-17, shooting only 3-for-10 from outside the arc.
Jones was impressed with how the Black Bears played.
“I mean, we won the game almost by double figures and they shot 52-percent from the floor, you know, they’re terrific in transition, they just seem to always be around the basket, they just got a ton of layups against us,” he said.
With the second-half turn around, Jones seemed impressed with how his team earned the victory.
“I thought we just did a good job of understanding what we had to do to win the game,” he said.