Nov. 10, 2013
Box Score | Irving's postgame comments | Photo Gallery
BOSTON - Trailing by five with 2:30 remaining in regulation, the unanimous preseason Patriot League favorite Boston University men's basketball team finished on a 10-2 run to defeat crosstown rival Northeastern, 72-69, on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. Winning their first season opener since 2007, the Terriers improve to 1-0, while the defending CAA regular season champion Huskies drop to 0-1.
A mid-major freshman All-America honoree last season, sophomore Maurice Watson Jr. finished with a game-high 16 points and five assists. He was one of three Terriers in double figures with sophomore John Papale and senior Dom Morris posting 13 and 12 points, respectively. On the defensive end, senior Travis Robinson had a team-high five rebounds, and junior Malik Thomas tallied five steals.
Seeing their three-game win streak in the series snapped, the Huskies were led by Scott Eatherton's 15 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 junior forward added three assists, three blocks and two steals. Zach Stahl and Quincy Ford contributed 16 and 10 points, respectively.
BU improves to 72-69 in the all-time series after another thrilling contest that went down to the final possession. It was no surprise for anyone as the previous six meetings were decided by single digits, including last year's one-point buzzer-beating win by Northeastern.
The squads opened up their respective season against each other for the fourth straight year and faced off at the official home of the Boston Celtics for the first time since 1973 as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Massachusetts Basketball Tripleheader.
After Zach Stahl hit a layup to give Northeastern a 67-62 lead at 2:30, Papale immediately followed with a 3-pointer. Morris then got the defensive rebound to give BU an opportunity to take the lead.
Looking to hit another trey, Papale was fouled by Ford. He drained all three free throws to give BU the 68-67 advantage. NU then missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Watson responded with a layup to push the lead to 70-67 with 45 seconds left on the clock.
The Huskies did not give up and hit two free throws to pull within 70-69. They quickly fouled Irving, who missed a 1-and-1. NU had the ball under its basket trailing by one with three seconds left, but Thomas intercepted the in-bounds throw to seal the win. BU's final two points came off Irving's made free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining.
NU opened the game with a layup and took its final lead of the half, 10-9, on Stahl's layup at 14:52. Five minutes later, Irving and Robinson hit back-to-back treys to push the Terriers ahead, 25-19.
After a Husky layup, freshman Cedric Hankerson hit two free throws and added two 3-pointers in the first stanza to lead the Terriers with eight points. BU entered the locker room ahead, 38-32, despite Morris playing only four minutes due to foul trouble.
Sophomore Nathan Dieudonne extended the lead to 48-40 with 15:50 remaining in regulation for NU's largest deficit of the contest. The Huskies rallied back with eight straight points off two treys and a layup and then later moved ahead, 54-52, after T.J. Williams drained two free throws at 10:09.
Five minutes later, David Walker gave NU its largest lead of the game, 63-56, which was matched on Stahl's layup (65-58) at 5:03. Watson then ignited BU's successful charge with three critical drives to the basket in the thrilling come-from-behind win.
After shooting 36.4 percent from the field in the first half, BU shot 50 percent in the second to finish 24-of-57 (.421). The Huskies had a stronger performance from the field at 27-of-59 (.458), but BU's tenacious defense forced them into 17 turnovers. More importantly, the Terriers were impressive at the free throw line, going 18-of-20 (.900) while NU finished 9-of-13 (.692).
BU will next open its 13-game home schedule at Case Gym against UMass Lowell on Wednesday (Nov. 13) with tip-off set for 7 p.m. The River Hawks (0-1) will be making their first trip to the campus since 1985.