Basketball came back to Boston in a big way Friday night, as Northeastern and Boston University played an exhilarating overtime game in front of a capacity filled Case Gym. With the NBA lockout continuing to drag on, the intercity rivals enchanted the fans with two and half hours of back-and-forth basketball that saw 14 lead changes and 12 ties.
In the end the new look Huskies survived several Terrier chances to put away the game at the end of regulation and a hostile road atmosphere to return to Huntington Avenue with an 82-74 OT victory.
Trailing 72-69 with 2:16 remaining in overtime, Joel Smith helped the Huskies close on an 13-2 run. Smith led Northeastern with 20 points and 12 rebounds and hit four free throws at the end of the session to ice the game. The junior guard and co-captain was one of two Huskies to finish with double-digit rebounds as the team dominated the boards 52-32, a major deficiency of the 2010-11 Huskies squad.
Boston University fought back from an 11 points deficit with 4:53 in regulation to take the lead with 65 seconds to play and had multiple chance to win the game in regulation. Leading scorer Darryl Partin missed a free throw with 34 seconds left before the squad had two final opportunities.
Speedster D.J. Irving missed his third 3-point shot of the night with under 10 seconds to play and then Pat Hazel failed to convert on an alley-oop in traffic with 1.1 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.
Partin led all players with 25 points on 8-16 shooting from the field with all but two of his misses coming from behind the arc (1-7). Fellow backourt mate D.J. Irving posted 17 points on 7-14 shooting but missed four more 3-point attempts and was an uncharacteristic 2-6 from the free throw line. Overall the Terriers hit just 17.9 percent of their 3-point attempts (5-28).
The 5 p.m. start, coupled with early season jitters and rust led to a sloppy yet exciting first half between the squads. Northeastern scored on their first four possesions of the season but failed to take out one of the loudest home BU crowds in the past five seasons. The Huskies failed to open up a lead because of poor shooting and sloppy ball handling that led to seven Northeastern turnovers in the first 14 minutes.
Boston University couldn't take advantage as the squad battled foul trouble with starting forwards Dom Morris (3 fouls) and Hazel (2 fouls) having to sit for long periods of time. Terriers head coach Joe Jones' goal of a faster paced offense predicated on getting to the hoop led to 38 points in the paints for BU, with 12 coming in the first half.
Huskies captain Joel Smith gave his team a slim 34-32 lead and momentum heading into the half, when he found a loose rebound and hit a falling away jump shot with 57 seconds left in the half. The Terriers would grasp a two point lead early in the second half but found themselves looking up at the Huskies for the next 18 minutes.
Reggie Spencer proved a nice surprise for head coach Bill Coen as the freshmen scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds in the middle of the second half. Spencer finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench for the Huskies before fouling out early in overtime.
Trailing 62-51 with 4:53 left, BU went on a furious 12-0 run behind two Matt Griffin 3-pointers. The final minute of play was a prime example of why the game was still an early season showing despite the postseason atmosphere; both teams missed free throws that would have given their team the lead and BU failed to get a good look on the final possesion.
BU's defense looked like it could potentially salvage a victory in the extra session with two steals and a block to open up a three point lead, but the Huskies took the air out of the gym with nine straight points and a 13-2 finish.
The Terriers will board a plane Saturday morning for their matchup against the Texas Longhorns Sunday afternoon. Northeastern's next trip will be much shorter as they travel to Amherst Monday for a 7PM start against the Minutemen.