Boston U. Tops Loyola With Wild Comeback

Momentum is fickle in the Patriot League.

When Boston University entered halftime of Monday’s game with an eight-point lead on Loyola (MD), it seemed to reinforce both teams’ trajectories. The Terriers were surging, having followed an 0-3 start to league play with two straight wins. The Greyhounds were slumping, dropping their last two after opening 3-0.

Everything changed in the locker rooms. Shortly after halftime, Loyola reversed the lead with a 16-0 blitz. With three big men in foul trouble, the Terriers collapsed inside, leaving space for Tyler Hubbard to drain three unanswered treys in five minutes. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds crashed the glass with abandon, keeping possessions alive and deflating Case Gym as their advantage grew to 14 points.

Boston U. beat Loyola (MD) in an overtime thriller at Case Gym.

Boston U. beat Loyola (MD) in an overtime thriller at Case Gym.

But they were double-crossed by Lady Momentum. A few missed free throws later, BU had cut the lead to six points. Cheddi Mosely — back from a two-game absence due to a foot injury — took care of the rest, splashing two three-pointers within 45 seconds to send the home crowd into frenzy. Jarred Jones answered with a nifty up-and-under spin move for the Greyhounds, but Eric Fanning and Mosely each drove to the rim and split a pair of free throws in the final 10 seconds (while Hubbard missed a pair on the other end), forcing overtime at 76-76.

Loyola scored the first three points of overtime, BU scored the next seven, and the Greyhounds had a chance to tie again after their press forced a turnover in the final minute. But Fanning saved a loose ball in the corner off the leg of Chancellor Barnard and made four free throws on the other end. When the dust settled, the Terriers were on top with a wild 87-84 victory.

“It was a great college game. I thought both teams played pretty well,” BU coach Joe Jones said. “There are a lot of positives you can take out of a game like this.”

“It’s a recurring theme for us,” Loyola head coach G.G. Smith said of their blown lead. “I don’t know what else to say.”

In front of CBS Sports Network’s cameras — and on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a 1955 Ph.D. graduate of Boston University — Fanning scored a career-high 37 points, the most for a Terrier in six years. He needed only 21 shooting possessions to get them, going 9-11 from the field and 17-22 from the free-throw line.

Fanning is one of the league’s best pure scorers, and he’s taken on a big role for a Terriers team that lost two starters to season-ending injuries. Loyola had no answer for the junior, who repeatedly outmuscled defenders from the perimeter. He led BU to 1.21 points per possession, its best mark against a D-I opponent this season.

“A lot of times I saw the lane wide open, so I was able to get to the rim,” Fanning said. “I played in the offense. If I keep playing in the offense instead of drifting out into my one-on-one game, then I’m a lot better. That’s when I struggle, when I rely on my one-on-one game and people load up on me, and I throw turnovers and all that stuff.”

Loyola kept pace, making half its shots and scoring 24 second-chance points. Jones led the team with 20 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive), while Barnard added 17 on perfect shooting off the bench. The Greyhounds, not known for their long-range accuracy, went a respectable 9-23 from three-point range — but a slightly closer spot, the free-throw line, was their downfall (17-30).

Seniors Nathan Dieudonne and John Papale celebrate BU's overtime win.

Seniors Nathan Dieudonne and John Papale celebrate BU’s overtime win.

Even as their lead fell to single digits, the visitors made a few baskets that seemed to shut the door — such as Jones’ three-point play with five minutes left, which stemmed a 9-0 run and fouled out Nathan Dieudonne. A loss would have been devastating for the Terriers, who have been thinned by injuries and have a tough schedule coming. But they completed the comeback, and are now back to .500 in league play with a three-game win streak.

“It was hard, especially when Nate went down. Nate’s our leader on defense, so when he went down, I was kinda shaky,” Fanning said. “But John [Papale], our other leader, he was preaching to us, ‘Stay the course, we’re good, we’re good.’ And then we looked at the score — we’re down six points, eight points, with five minutes left, that’s so much time.”

The Terriers and Greyhounds are now 3-3 in the Patriot League, part of a mid-table pack of four. Bucknell and surging Navy lead the pack at 5-1, followed by Colgate at 4-2. BU and Loyola both face the Bison and Raiders this week, which will test if either can join the top group of contenders.