Being that they are two of the top teams in the Patriot League, BU and Army's matchup on Wednesday was one of the most anticipated in the league. With Army's offense, BU's defense, Kyle Wilson, Maurice Watson Jr., D.J. Irving and Tanner Plomb, how could this matchup not be awesome?
Army's offense didn't show up in the first half. Then BU's defense stayed in the locker room after halftime. Then Mo Watson sat during crunch time. Then Plomb scored five points. Irving (22 points, 14-for-14 free throws) and Wilson (23 points) didn't disappoint and if not for their dueling pistols act down the stretch this game may have been glossed over as we close the book on the first half of the Patriot League season. The result is an 86-81 overtime win for the Terriers with the knowledge that despite their best efforts to lose the game, Army just tried a little harder.
BU started the game with a 9-0 run and led by double digits for the last 13:30 of the half, taking a 19-point lead into the break at 37-18. The Terriers were securely in the lead, were getting contributions from everyone that touched the floor, and looked content to coast towards their eighth Patriot League win. But you all can do the math, can't you.
Army came out firing in the second half, outscoring BU 54-35 during the last 20 minutes. Leading by eight with 3:28 in the half, BU turned the ball over three times -- two by Malik Thomas, the last by Irving -- and allowed Army to wipe out the lead on a Wilson layup (which, by the way, is an understatement) with 11 seconds to play. Irving took the inbounds, casually went up the floor, and then missed a jumper, sending the game to overtime.
Irving would make all eight of his free throw attempts in the extra period to account for two-thirds of BU's scoring during overtime. The other four came from Thomas, who despite scoring 18 points in the game had no business being at the line up two points with 20 seconds to play. After a Dylan Cox layup cut the lead to two, Thomas inexplicably thought the right place to stand would be right in front of Irving, even though he had just...you know...made eight straight free throws during overtime. Thomas missed the first, made the second, and Army had a shot to tie the game, because this is the Patriot League and that's how things go up in here.
Army actually had several good looks at a game-tying three over the last 20 seconds, but none could find the bottom of the net.
What bothers me about games like this is that they don't tell us anything about the teams involved. We knew BU could defend -- it held Army to 18 first-half points. We knew Army could score -- it erased a 19-point deficit. We knew Wilson could shoot and that Irving was clutch. Had one team asserted its will on the game for more than 20 minutes, it would have told us something. But since neither team controlled anything (23 turnovers apiece), I can't truly tell you which was the better team.
OK, I take that back. I did learn one thing: The Patriot League Tournament is going to a blast.