Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Terriers fall just short, lose to Rutgers 81–79 on road

By Christopher Dela Rosa/DFP Sports

The Boston University men’s basketball team knew it would be a challenge to travel to Piscataway, N.J. and take on Rutgers University at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Last year, then-No. 10 University of Florida made the trip, and lost to a young and inexperienced, but hungry Rutgers team on the very same court.

However, the Terriers fell just short of an upset, dropping the contest 81–79.

“I liked our toughness,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “But we have got to be able to play for 40 minutes. We have got to defend. Those things have got to change.”

After the opening tip, it seemed as if BU (0–4, 0–0 America East) was going to play well against the Scarlet Knights (3–1, 0–0 Big East ). The Terriers applied constant pressure on their first defensive series, forcing Rutgers to turn the ball over. Despite BU’s tenacious defense to open the game, it failed to capitalize on turnovers.

With 16 minutes remaining in the first half and BU trailing 8–2, junior forward and co-captain Dom Morris took an unexpected 3-pointer from the top of the key. Morris made the shot, bringing his team within five points of Rutgers.

Unlike BU’s previous games, early fouls became become a problem. The Terriers amassed four team fouls in the first five minutes of the game.

Not only did BU have trouble fouling other players — the Terriers had trouble when they were the ones being fouled. In the first half, BU was 6-for-12 from the free throw line.

With about seven and a half minutes left in the first half, the Terriers faced another large deficit, trailing the Scarlet Knights by 18 points.

Despite being down by so many points that early in the game, BU went on a run to finish the first half on a positive note.

The Terriers closed the gap to eight points in a pretty exciting fashion. The excitement came with about five seconds remaining as Rutgers missed a shot, BU got the rebound and with two seconds remaining junior guard D.J. Irving threw up a 35-foot shot that went in as the buzzer sounding.

The positive for BU going into the half was that despite their poor play, they were only losing by eight.

Coming out of halftime, BU played the way they did as the first half came to a close.

For much of the second half, the Terriers hung around with the Scarlet Knights. With about 12 minutes left in the second half, BU switched to a full-court press defense.

The Terriers used this defense against George Washington on Saturday, and it helped them cut a 20-point lead in half.

“The big thing is that we have some good size and quickness in the back court,” Jones said. “We were able to put some pressure on people that way.”

This switch in defense helped BU force a few more Rutgers turnovers. With a little less than 10 minutes left, the 18-point lead Rutgers once held became a four-point lead. This lead was then cut to two points (59–57) with less than eight minutes left. A minute later, BU cut the lead all the way down to one (60–59).

For about five more minutes, it seemed as if BU was giving the game away. Multiple fouls and turnovers helped Rutgers extend their lead back to five points.

After some strong defense and great performance by Irving at the free throw line, the Terriers were within three with just under a minute to go.

After a Rutgers layup to extend the lead to five again, Irving, who was having trouble from 3-point range all evening, hit a 3-point jumper with a little over 20 seconds remaining.

Following the 3–pointer, BU fouled Rutgers and sophomore guard Eli Carter hit both. Fortunately for the Terriers, Irving developed a hot hand and hit another deep 3-pointer to make the score 77–76.

Things did not go well for BU after the shot. Rutgers inbounded the ball to guard Jerome Seagears who was fouled once and then laid out by junior forward Travis Robinson, resulting in a flagrant foul. Seagears made the two free throws and Rutgers got the ball back because it was a flagrant.

Rutgers knocked down another two free throws after getting the ball back, making it a two-possession game. With five seconds remaining and no chance of winning left, Maurice Watson Jr. took the ball down the court and hit a buzzer beater 3-pointer, making the final score 81–79 with BU on the losing side for the fourth game in a row.

“We are going to win some games,” Jones said. “There are good times ahead for this team … We are young and we are a little bit more inexperienced. I think that part of it we are going to have to learn to grow as a team.

“I thought tonight we took a step, and I thought it was a good step, but we are capable of winning games like this … We are just struggling to play a full game right now.”

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