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Boston University vs. American: Terriers Control Tempo, Take Down Eagles 71-62

With the top seed on the line and blowout loss in the rearview, Boston University came to play.

Nathan Dieudonne (left) and Cedric Hankerson contributed, per usual, to BU's win.
Nathan Dieudonne (left) and Cedric Hankerson contributed, per usual, to BU's win.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Team First Half Second Half Final
American U. Eagles 32 30 62
Boston U. Terriers 31 40 71

It doesn't seem like too long ago that the first version of the Patriot League's marquee matchup ended in a record-setting blowout. In the weeks since American trounced BU both teams have lost games, both teams have won games, and on Wednesday night they met again with first place in the conference on the line. This time, however, there would be no records, no blowouts -- just a controlled tempo and a BU lead that didn't dip below five for the final 15 minutes en route to a 71-62 win.

With 14:55 to play and a four point lead, Mo Watson Jr. made the play of the game. After  D.J. Irving's jumper fell off the rim into the hands of Tony Wroblicky, Watson swooped in to poke the ball free, picked it up, and drained a mid-range jumper from the right side to give BU the six-point advantage they would maintain for the rest of the game. Watson would finish with 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals with just one turnover to lead the Terriers.

Dom Morris contributed 16 points and seven rebounds, representing the only other BU player in double digits. That type of balanced scoring has been one of BU's hallmarks in 2013-14 and on Wednesday night all nine players that stepped on the floor scored. Balance and commitment to their system have gotten the Terriers this far and it is unlikely they will waver from that path.

The same could be said of American. The Eagles have started the same lineup in every game this season, save two games when Jesse Reed was away from the team, and three American players are among the league leaders in minutes played. On Wednesday, Reed played all 40 minutes, Darius Gardner played 37, John Schoof played 36 and Wroblicky played 31 -- although that last number likely would have been higher had Wroblicky not sat the last four-plus minutes of the first half with a gash on his head.

Now losers of four of their last five, its time to consider whether Mike Brennan's reliance on his starters has taken a toll on the Eagles. It was mentioned several times early in the broadcast that Brennan has been trying to work more guys in, but isn't it a little late for that? Like BU, one way of playing has gotten American to this point and it is both unlikely and unwise to waver from that path at this stage of the race.

American now has an away date with Navy sandwiched by home games with Army and Bucknell to look forward to and while it is unlikely the Eagles fall from the No. 2 seed in the conference, it will be interesting to see if the depth issue raises its ugly head again.

For BU, a home game with Bucknell on the weekend will be followed by road dates with fellow top-four teams Army and Holy Cross. If the Terriers can win two of their next three they will clinch the regular season title and home court advantage throughout the Patriot League tournament. With any luck, we will be right back here in a few weeks playing for an NCAA Tournament bid.