Boston University (6-11, 2-1) will host Stony Brook (9-6, 4-0) Saturday afternoon at noon, in a rematch of last season's America East Championship Game that was decided at the buzzer. ESPN3 will have a telecast of the game from Case Gym and they can only hope that this time around, is as close as last season's 56-54 Terriers victory, that occurred across the street, at Agganis Arena.
The Terriers come into the matchup with a 17-6 advantage all time, including wins in all three games last season. In the championship game last March, Stony Brook jumped all over Boston University in the first half and held a 15-point lead with 16:47 to play, before John Holland took over for the Terriers. The senior nearly single-handedly willed his team back into the game with a game-high 27 points, including 23 in the second half. Holland's two free throws with 2.4 seconds to go gave the Terriers their first lead and Bryan Dougher's last-chance heave fell off the mark for the Seawolves.
After a slow December, the Terriers find themselves red-hot with wins in their past two games. Wednesday night, Boston University scored 50 points in the second half to hand Maine, a conference power this season, their first loss of the conference season. Darryl Partin and D.J. Irving led the Terriers to victory, as the pair combined for 50 points and 11 assists in the 77-68 win.
If the Terriers are hot, Stony Brook is scalding, as the Seawolves have racked up six straight wins. The Seawolves demolished UMBC Wednesday night 89-49, as Stony Brook hit 58 percent of their shots in the game. Four Seawolves finished in double-figures, as the suddenly potent Stony Brook offense scored 80 or more points for the second game in a row.
Boston University relies heavily on their backcourt pairing of Partin and Irving for nearly everything they do offensively. Partin is second in the conference in scoring at 20.2 points per game and is helped out by Irving, who is averaging 12.2 points and a league-high 5.4 assists per game. Patrick Hazel is the team's best big man, as he's averaging 7.1 points, a team-high six rebounds and nearly two blocks a game.
After an incredibly challenging non-conference schedule, the Terriers are in the middle-of-the pack in America East in almost every statistical category, but have excelled in the past two games in their 3-point shooting, including hitting 12-of-16 3-pointers against Maine.
Stony Brook's leading scorer is Dougher, the school's all-time leading 3-point shooter. The senior guard is the lone player who averages more than 10 points per game, as he's averaging 13.7 points on three 3-pointers per game. Junior forward Tommy Brenton is a difference-maker inside; he's averaging 8.3 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game, after missing all of last season to an injury. While the Seawolves offense has been hot as of late, the team's defense is their cornerstone. Stony Brook leads all America East teams in scoring defense (61.8ppg), opponent's field goal percentage (41.9%) and all the major rebounding categories. Between Brenton and Dallis Joyner, who's a behemoth inside, the Terriers will have their hands full trying to control the glass.
Prediction: Both teams come into this game playing their best basketball of the season and you'd be hard pressed to find two more talented teams from top to bottom in the America East. Partin and Irving should be able to get to the lane against the Stony Brook guards, but they'll need a lot of help from Hazel, Dom Morris and Malik Thomas, if the Terriers are going to stay competitive inside. Stony Brook has the edge on paper in this one but that certainly hasn't stopped the Terriers before. I think this game could come down to a hot 3-point shooting performance and both teams have the players to pull it off.
Boston University 74, Stony Brook 71