Darryl Partin and Boston University (14-13, 10-3 America East) will look to sweep their fourth America East foe and extend their winning streak to four Wednesday night when they host New Hampshire (10-14, 5-8 AE) at 7 p.m. at the Case Gymnasium. (TV: None/Radio: 1510 AM WWZN)
Partin, the conference's second leading scorer (19.9 ppg), was named the America East Player of The Week Monday after averaging 23.5 points per game in two victories. The senior shooting guard is fifteenth in the nation in scoring and also stands 20th in America East in rebounding with four per game.
After the Terriers 52-50 victory in Durham, New Hampshire earlier this year, Boston University leads the series with the Wildcats 94-37 and has won nine of the past ten contests. In that first contest, Partin scored a game-high 20 points and sophomore point guard D.J. Irving added 13 points and three assists to hold off a late Wildcats rally. Senior guard Alvin Abreu single-handedly led New Hampshire back with a team-high 16 points, while Patrick Konan (15 points) had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds, but missed a 3-pointer.
Boston University has been off for an entire week, their longest respite since finals period, after their 67-54 victory last Thursday at Case Gym. The Terriers knocked the Black Bears behind defense and rebounding, as they held the Black Bears to just 32.8 percent (19-of-58) shooting and held a nine-rebound advantage (44-35). With Maine missing their best big man (Alasdair Fraser), sophomore forward Dom Morris had a breakout game with a season-high 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. The win pushed Boston University over .500 for the first time all season long and was the 100th career victory for first-year head coach Joe Jones.
Bill Herrion's squad is riding a mini winning streak of their own, after consecutive victories over Albany and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). In Sunday's narrow 66-60 victory over UMBC, senior center Brian Benson and Konan both recorded double-doubles to overcome the Retrivers. Benson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Konan chipped in with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Terriers big second-half turnaround has been the result of a lot of factors, starting with the play of Irving. A potential Player of the Year recipient, Irving is fifteenth in scoring (12 ppg), leads the conference in assists (5.3 apg), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4) and amongst the top ten in both field goal and 3-point shooting percentage. With Irving manning the point and using his quickness to create chaos on both sides of the ball, Boston University has outscored opponents by 8.5 per game.
On the other side, New Hampshire has already clinched a .500 or below conference record for the 18th time in a row. The last time the Wildcats finished above .500 in conference was the 1994-95 season, when New Hampshire finished second in the conference with an 11-4 in the North Atlantic Conference and watched Herrion lead Drexel to a conference tournament championship behind Malik Rose, who would later go on to play in the NBA.
Just two Wildcats are averaging double figures, Abreu (13.8 ppg) and point guard Chandler Rhoads (11.5 ppg), but the team has a solid six-man rotation. The problem with the Wildcats has been their lack of depth and the team's struggles offensively. Herrion gets just 13.2 points per game from his bench, with the majority coming from junior guard Ferg Myrick (7.6 ppg). Outside of Myrick the bench's production is anemic and that goes for the offense overall to a certain point (61.9 ppg). New Hampshire depends heavily on the 3-point shot, as they knock down a conference best 7.3 made threes a game but also attempt just under 39 percent of their shots from deep. When the threes aren't falling, the Wildcats have struggled to adjust, despite having two extremely talented forwards in Benson and Konan.
Prediction: This Wildcats squad has several good parts but they don't mesh together well to create a great product, defensively they're strong but just as we saw in the first game against the Terriers, their offense often fails to produce enough to come away with victories. Boston University is still technically in the hunt for the number one overall spot in America East after Vermont beat Stony Brook Sunday and they can ill afford to lose to a Wildcats team they've consistently dominated in the past. If the Terriers can consistently close out on the Wildcat shooters and keep center Patrick Hazel out of foul trouble and on the court, the Wildcats two biggest strengths will be neutralized and Boston University should cruise easily to a W.
Boston University 78, New Hampshire 63