By René Reyes/DFP Staff
DURHAM, N.H. – First-year head coach Joe Jones didn’t want to dwell too much on the ugly aspects of Thursday night’s game at the University of New Hampshire.
He did not want to talk about how the Boston University men’s basketball team had committed 16 turnovers in a mistake-filled affair, or how the 52 total points were the fewest BU had scored in a win since 2005 or how UNH was a 3-point shot away from overcoming a 10-point second-half deficit and stealing a victory in the contest’s final seconds.
For Jones, whose squad managed just five assists compared to 16 turnovers, including 10 in the second frame alone, grinding out a 52-50 road win against the Wildcats in front of 857 at Lundholm Gymnasium was good enough.
“These kids played their hearts out,” Jones said. “Instead of talking about how ugly it was, it was a hard-fought win. It was a road win for us. There’s nothing ugly about it. It’s basketball. It’s a road win on the road.”
And indeed it was. Since a loss at the University of Vermont on Jan. 5, BU has rattled off three straight road wins versus the University of Maine, New Hampshire and the University of Harford. But none was as ugly as the victory on Thursday. UNH fumbled the ball away 23 times, and BU made it pay for its mistakes and shoddy play on offense, scoring 25 points off of those turnovers.
Wildcats coach Bill Herrion admitted that turnovers were the primary culprits behind the discouraging defeat for his team, which has lost back-to-back games and five of its last six.
During the offseason, while relaxing on Ryan Beach, Herrion never imagined such an unsatisfactory start to the 2011-12 campaign. The losses the Wildcats have been dealt this season have been self-inflicted, he said.
“We are a team that continually beats ourselves,” Herrion said. “You’re not gonna win many basketball games when you turn it over 23 times. Give [BU] credit, they’re a very good defensive team, but our inability just to make simple plays and pass-and-catch, it’s very disappointing.”
Herrion did concede that BU’s efforts on defense played a major role in forcing the turnovers and handing the Terriers the extra possessions in what eventually would become a two-point win for the visitors.
But the difference between both teams – and their respective basketball programs – is clear and simple: BU possesses the ability to win close games with its experience while an inexperienced New Hampshire squad has been unable to come up on the right side of the scoreboard in tight games.
“We just didn’t complete plays,” Herrion said. “The second half, they turned up the heat defensively. Give them credit. They’re very good. They’re a good defensive team. When you’ve won a championship and you’ve been in that situation and you’ve experienced that, you have that confidence, you have that swagger, you have that fight.
“You win close games like they won. That’s the difference between their team and their program and ours.”
Defense has been the Terriers’ calling card during their six-game winning streak, and despite out-rebounding the Wildcats by a 30-29 margin, the Terriers can still improve in other facets of the game, especially on the offensive and defensive glasses.
“I think that’s the main reason for our run right now because we’ve picked it up on the defensive end,” said sophomore guard D.J. Irving. “When we get going in the rebounding we’ll be pretty good.”
Senior guard Darryl Partin, who led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-19 shooting, said he was pleased with his team’s overall performance in an ugly contest, considering the one-hour drive up to Durham, N.H., and the Wildcats’ intensity on both ends of the floor.
“We know they’re a really tough team,” Partin said. “We lost here last year by a lot. The coach, a real tough-minded guy. We knew their team was going to come out with a lot of energy and really make us compete. It’s tough when you’re an hour away. You’re on an hour little bus ride just to come and play and get off the bus and just play.
“It’s a tough ticket but we pulled it together, so I’m just excited about that.”
A close win on the road has helped BU continue on its six-game winning streak in the America East.
“Every win feels great,” Partin said. “This definitely felt great, especially when you’re on the road. … The road in college basketball is just rough wherever you’re playing, no matter who you’re playing against, you have to rise to the challenge.”