After two games and 80 minutes of basketball, Boston University (14-14, 10-4 America East) and New Hampshire (11-14, 6-8 AE) are tied at 106. In what Terriers head coach Joe Jones kept referring to as a "carbon copy" of the first game, the Wildcats got their revenge against the Terriers with a 56-54 win.
"We kinda dodged a bullet, but it was a great win for our team," New Hampshire head coach Bill Herrion said. "I don't know the last time UNH has won here (1994), it's been a long time. I had way more hair then and I was way younger. It was about our toughness and our competitiveness and defensively handling them on the glass."
Despite two chances in the final minute to take the lead or tie the game, Boston University could not overcome the compact Wildcats defense and their immense shooting woes from behind the arc, coupled with an injury to co-captain and starting center Patrick Hazel.
Senior guard Darryl Partin did his best to lead the Terriers to the victory, finishing with 20 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Partin knocked down 6-of-17 shots and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts as the team hit just 9.1 percent (2-of-22) of their shots from behind the arc, including missing all nine of their attempts in the second half.
With Hazel out of the lineup, sophomore Dom Morris, the team's power forward, played the center position for most of the night and finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. It was just the second double-double of Morris' season, as he recorded a new season-high in points for the second straight game. Morris connected on 7-of-9 shots and pulled down five offense rebounds for the Terriers.
"I thought Dom [Morris] in particular was terrific tonight," Terriers head coach Joe Jones said. "All around he had a great night for us, did a great job."
The problem for the Terriers was the absence of a third scorer. Point guard D.J. Irving managed just two points on 1-of-5 shooting, to go along with his eight assists and the team's other two starters (Hazel and Travis Robinson) combined for two points.
Hazel is suffering from a knee injury he suffered in last Thursday's win against Maine. He played just seven minutes in the loss after practicing sparingly this week with the team.
New Hampshire was led by junior guard Ferg Myrick who finished with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Playing on the same court he suffered a torn patella tendon that ended his season last year, the Philadelphia native was pivotal in leading the Wildcats to their first victory against Boston University on Commonwealth Avenue since 1994.
"We were running this thing we call a "Triangle," where we look for him [Myrick] in the post, with a lot of switching and I think he had some mismatches in there," Herrion said. "He's a talented kid, last year here he had a really bad injury...he's just finally coming back believe it or not."
Guards Chandler Rhoads and Alvin Abreu added 10 points apiece and were both keys to New Hampshire's success in driving and attacking the basket. With Hazel, the conference's leading shot blocker sitting for all but seven minutes, New Hampshire scored 32 points in the paint, with over two-thirds of the points coming from the team's guards.
The Wildcats controlled the play of the first half with their physicality and defense, as they held a lead for almost the entire period. After a Morris basket to begin the game, New Hampshire held the lead or found themselves tied for the next 22 minutes. Even after the Terriers erased New Hampshire's largest lead of the game of seven points (16-9), the Wildcats responded with a 6-0 run to ensure they would take a lead into the break (28-22).
Boston University came out of the gates blazing hot in the second half. Partin knotched four quick points, eclipsing his first half total (two points), as the Terriers started the half on a 8-0 run in the first 2:48. But any hopes of an easy blowout soon dissolved for the Terriers, as New Hampshire consistently found an answer to every Terriers basket.
It was Myrick who led the big Wildcats run that took back the lead and nearly put the game out of reach. With New Hampshire trailing 40-36 with 12:20 to play, Myrick scored eight points in the Wildcats 14-4 run to open up a six-point lead. The long, athletic guard hit a layup, followed it with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then added another layup and a free throw to open up the Wildcats' largest lead of the second half (50-44)
Boston University would close the deficit to two, 56-54 with 44 seconds to play, but failed to score again. After Irving's transition layup, his only basket of the game fell, the Terriers had two fantastic opportunities because of missed 1:1's by the Wildcats.
After a Patrick Konan missed free throw, Darryl Partin missed a long three but the Terriers got the ball back once again on a Rhoads missed free throw.
With 24 seconds to play, Irving took the ball at the top of the key, went around a pick and drove down the right side of the lane looking for an easy lay-in off glass. The only problem was Myrick switched on to Irving and gave him no space. With Myrick's long extended arm in his face, Irving threw the ball too high and with too much force off glass and it landed in Konan's hands with 1.1 seconds to go.
"It was for D.J. [Irving] we were trying to clear out the side and let D.J. refuse the ball screen on the side and drive," Jones said on the final play. "He ended up using it and then the kid just did a good job of staying in front of him the whole time and it was great defense. After he didn't use it, then he was able to get the ball back and go one-on-one but Myrick did a great job of staying between him and the basket."
After two more missed free throws, Malik Thomas' last ditch effort was nowhere close and the Terriers dropped their fourth America East contest.
Boston University will be back in action on Saturday when they partake in BracketBuster weekend. The Terriers will put their perfect 4-0 record in BracketBuster games on the line when they travel to Loyola (MD) for a 1 p.m. EDT start.