It’s not often that Case Gym is filled with noise. Boston University is an academics-centric college, and playing a winter sport in a New England city doesn’t help the cause.
But on Wednesday evening, with Turnpike Trophy rival Holy Cross in town, 966 fans filled the building. And the Terriers responded to the rare crowd, defeating the Crusaders, 68-54, to snap their four-game losing streak.
“I thought it fired us up,” head coach Joe Jones said of the crowd. “Any time you’ve got the home crowd going — I thought our guys played with an extra pot to them.”
The Terriers (10-12, 3-6 Patriot League) and the crowd seemed to feed off each other all evening. A putback slam by junior forward Max Mahoney early in the second half would grow the cheers.
Then came a steal-and-slam and junior forward Tyler Scanlon. Back-and-forth, the crowd’s roar and the momentum-shifting plays prompted one another.
“Especially late in the game,” Mahoney said. “[They] stayed loud, stayed in the whole game. It was something really appreciated and something we definitely fed off.”
Reflecting the team’s energy was on the glass: BU outrebounded Holy Cross (12-10, 3-6 PL), 42-to-18, including 12-to-3 on the offensive end.
“That’s got to be a strength of ours, if we’re gonna play with size,” Jones said. “We’ve got to play with force on the backboard. I thought our guys went to the glass hard [tonight].”
Jones cited a play from halfway through the second half, when Mahoney grabbed two offensive rebounds in a single possession to score an and one off Holy Cross forward Jehyve Floyd.
“When you make plays like that, you’re not losing the game,” Jones said. “If a kid makes those types of plays, usually your team is not gonna lose. That was a ridiculous play.”
Mahoney finished the evening with team-high 19 points and nine rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end.
But the Turnpike Trophy MVP was Scanlon, who scored 17 points and led the game with 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
His back-to-back 3-pointers at the start of the game proved not only to foreshadow his performance, but also the success BU found from the 3-point line, another area that got the fans into the game.
The Terriers made 11 shots from deep on Wednesday, marking the first time they recorded double figures in 3-pointers since Nov. 28, when they hit 12 of them against the University of New Hampshire.
“Guys made some big shots and spread out the defense,” Mahoney said. “Because we had that balance tonight, we were able to get going.”
“The focus was just on winning,” Scanlon said. “You lose enough games, you get sick of losing, and you do anything you can do to win. That was the morale of the story. [We] just wanted to win real bad.”