Dog eat dog: Terriers trounce Retrievers 83-48. BU moves to 7-1 in conference play, UMBC falls to 2-6January 25th, 2012 by Sam Perkins
(Boston, MA) — UMBC guard Jerrell Lane drove down the court, pulled up from behind the arc, and fired up an uncontested 3. As the final buzzer sounded, Lane’s wounded duck struck nothing but the bottom of the backboard.
It was the Retrievers season in a nutshell.
Boston University romped to an 83-48 win Tuesday night over visiting UMBC in a laugher between two teams headed in polar-opposite directions.
The host Terriers hit on all-cylinders, posting season highs in points (83), rebounds (45), blocks (nine), and point-differential (35), while emptying the bench with roughly five minutes remaining in game time. The win moves Boston University to 7-1 in America East play, the program’s best start to the conference slate since the 2003-2004 season.
“I was very pleased with our overall effort, and we got significant contributions from a number of guys,” said Terriers head coach Joe Jones, who saw 11 different Terriers score.
For the Retrievers, who fall to 2-6 in conference play and 3-17 on the season, the wheels appear to have fallen off. UMBC has now lost two straight games by 35 or more points and has fallen in six of their last seven.
“[BU] certainly came out and pushed us around, and I don’t think we responded very well – it’s a little disappointing and a little discouraging,” said UMBC head coach Randy Monroe. “It’s college basketball; you have to compete… we didn’t do it.”
For UMBC, the concern isn’t simply the losses, but how the Retrievers have fallen: After scrapping to the final buzzer throughout the first half of the season, UMBC appears to have packed it in.
“I wish my team could take on what I had – but unfortunately they don’t – so we just have to keep playing basketball,” said Monroe, referencing his team’s lack of fight.
Early on, the game appeared to be a close, low-scoring affair. After BU wings Darryl Partin and Travis Robinson shot the Terriers to an 18-9 lead with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half, UMBC counter-punched, scoring a quick 4 points.
The Retrievers spurt was punctuated by the play of the night. Following a steal, freshman guard Joey Getz fired a no-look bounce pass in transition, hitting a streaking Ryan Cook. Cook, who on his best days stands a bit over 6 feet, threw down a huge tomahawk dunk, hitting the rim with such force and power that he appeared completely horizontal.
It was the type of momentum turning play that often energizes teams. Instead, the Retrievers faded. BU went into the half up 17, 39-22, led by Robinson, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
“I thought in particular Travis Robinson was great in the first half, making a ton of effort plays-he had four offensive rebounds for the game. I thought that really set the tone,” said Jones.
“We were dissecting the zone pretty good; I got a lot of open shots and I just knocked them down,” said the always-soft spoken Robinson.
BU continued to put the pedal down on UMBC in the second half. The lead allowed the Terriers to rest their starters for long stretches, as none played more than 24 minutes on the night.
The lead allowed several reserves to see extended minutes. Zach Chionuma scored 7 points on 3-5 shooting, showing continued signs that the highly-touted freshman is finally turning the corner and playing with confidence. Forward Malik Thomas scored 9 points hitting two deep 3’s, and center Jeff Pelage pulled down 7 rebounds and added a block in 19 minutes.
“I think some of the guys have played much better as of late, Zach [Chionuma] in particular,” Jones said. “Malik [Thomas] did a nice job, Mike Terry played good minutes against Albany and Jeff [Pelage] has been pretty steady in what he brings to the table…I really feel like right now we have one of the stronger benches in the league and I think that will be a strength down the stretch.”
A steal and dunk by Terry, a diminutive, all-effort guard, drew a roar from the Terriers starters as they watched from the sidelines, and 7’1” center Mat Piotrowski’s first college points on a pair of free-throws resulted in an eruption from the crowd.
“They work very hard every day – just as hard as the more heralded players,” said Robinson of the reserves.
Darryl Partin led BU with 17 points and point guard D.J. Irving dished out 7 assists to go with 9 points. Chase Plummer led UMBC with 17 points and 9 rebounds while Jamar Wertz added 12 points off the bench.
Partin credited a tough non-conference schedule with the Terriers surge in conference play.
“We schedule a very tough non-conference schedule; that’s how we like it and that’s how we want to get prepared for the league. We’re not scheduling light teams and that prepares us for games like today,” said Partin.
BU now has a full head of momentum heading into a Friday night showdown with Stony Brook in the biggest game of the America East season to date. A win tonight over Hartford will mean the Terriers and Seawolves will enter Friday in a dead-heat atop the America East standings at 7-1.
But Jones cautioned against focusing on Friday night’s game in a vacuum.
“I don’t think we really play well when we let the magnitude of a game get the best of us, and I thought that happened in the Vermont game,” said Jones, referencing the Terriers lone conference loss. “To be honest, I don’t know if [Friday is] any more important than tonight’s game. We just have to keep getting better and that’s really the goal.”
The Retrievers (who have one a total of 12 games over their past three seasons following back-to-back trips to the conference title game in 2008 and 2009, and a conference championship in 2008) had the look of a mentally defeated team. Only assistant coach Jay Greene, who as a starting point guard powered UMBC to the NCAA tournament, appeared to remain emotionally invested in the game, encouraging the Retrievers for the entire 40 minutes of action.