Two of the hottest teams in the America East Conference face off Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. EDT when Boston University (9-11, 5-1 AE) take on the Hartford Hawks (4-14, 4-2 AE) at the Chase Arena. (TV: None/Radio: 1510 AM WWZN).
These two teams played two memorable games in Hartford last season, with each team coming away with a win. In the America East Conference semifinals, the Terriers knocked off the upstart Hawks 58-52 to end Hartford's season for the second straight year. The win was a bit of payback for the Hawks 59-55 comeback win exactly a year ago today. In the loss, the Terriers had all but won the game with a 15 point lead with 11 minutes to go, but Hartford's 1-3-1 zone defense stymied the Boston University offense which would miss all 10 of their field goal the rest of the way.
Wednesday's victory wasn't pretty but it kept the Terriers winning streak alive-as Boston University pulled out a 52-50 victory at New Hampshire. Senior guard Darryl Partin had a team-high 20 points and point guard D.J. Irving added 13 for the Terriers who saw their nine-point lead with five minutes to go nearly disappear. New Hampshire forward Patrick Konan had a 3-point shot to win it in the closing seconds but was off the mark, giving the Terriers their season high fifth-straight victory.
After losing 13 consecutive games to start the season, Hartford has won four of their past five, including three in a row. Thursday night the Hawks pulled off a 63-49 victory in Orono, Maine against a reeling Maine squad. The young Hawks were led by freshmen Wes Cole's 13 points and 12 point from classmate Mark Nwakamma.
Boston University is led by two of the best guards in the conference in Partin and Irving. Partin is second in America East in scoring at (19.9ppg) and sixth in the conference in made 3-point field goals per game with 2.1. The senior transfer averages the second most minutes per game in the conference (34.9mpg) and has been on fire as of late in the second halves of games, averaging 15.5 points per half. Irving has been a big key to that success, as he's averaging a league-best 5.3apg, to go along with 12.5ppg. Fellow sophomore Dom Morris has picked up his play during conference games with 6.3 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds per game.
Hartford has a brand new look and a ton of faces after losing senior leader Joe Zeglinski to graduation this past may. Senior point guard Andres Torres is finally healthy and leads the squad in scoring (12.1ppg) and assists (4.1apg). Three freshmen have stood out for the Hawks, with Cole, Nate Sikma and Nwakamma standing as the second, third and fourth scoring options. Sikma a Washington native leads the team in rebounding with 4.4 rebounds per game. The Hawks have gotten into the win column behind the strength of their defense and 3-point shooting. In their past five games, Hartford has held four opponents to 60 points or less and two teams to exactly 49 points. Offensively the team doesn't have a true number one scorer, but Hartford does lead the conference in 3-point made baskets per game (7.7) on 31.5 percent shooting.
Prediction: Hartford is extremely young and wasn't expected to compete for anything this season but they've made great strides over the past two weeks and sit just a game behind the Terriers. In the past two weeks this game has become much less of a gimme for the Terriers, but Boston University is playing its best basketball of the season and have already knocked off two foes on the road during the streak. Today's game should come down to composure and controlling the basketball. If the Terriers can avoid overlooking the Hawks and not rack up turnovers down the stretch, they should leave Hartford with a victory.
Boston University 65, Hartford 58