When Chris Bolden and Trae Golden touched the ball behind the arc in the first half at Conte Forum, there was little doubt that their shots would fail to light up the scoreboard. Their strokes leading to points was inevitable-a forgone conclusion-just like many of the Boston College men’s basketball team’s games. The Eagles have stacked the odds against themselves throughout the season, whether it be through poor shooting, defense, or attitude in the first half.
After the break, Donahue’s team almost always musters the strength to get within distance of snagging the lead, but runs out of gas toward the end, coming up just short.
Tuesday night’s 68-60 defeat by Georgia Tech was no different. The Eagles went into the intermission down by 15 points, conceding 42 to the visitors, who shot 73.9 percent from the field while making eight of nine 3-pointers. It was a shooting performance to behold.
It could have been stopped with a little bit of energy and intensity.
“We didn’t play with a lot of passion,” Donahue said. “I think these guys want to do it. I think they were thinking about the game plan and what I’m telling them, as opposed to first thing is you’ve gotta play really hard. You’ve gotta play with passion.”
Until the second half, the team was lethargic. Golden was able to drain triple after triple, and if it was not him it was Bolden. The pair combined for all of the Yellow Jackets’ six first-half threes, which was not bad for a team that came into the game shooting a mere 29.2 percent from behind the arc.
While part of the visitors’ success undoubtedly came from the attacking duo’s getting hot early, part of it was the Eagles not following through with fundamentals.
“We’re not contesting shots, and just like Coach said, we came out with no attitude or really much effort,” said sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan. “It’s not like they’re hitting hard shots. They were just hitting open shots and we didn’t have our hands up.”
The last part of his statement is key-the hands were not up. In the team’s victory at Virginia Tech, the hands were up on defense and hustle plays were being made. Against Georgia Tech, though, the hands were down and so was the energy. When the Eagles are defending, it is common to see Donahue in a defensive stance with his hands in an upward position.
The defense’s lack of a killer instinct made it vulnerable on several occasions, as it was too easy for the visitors to get the ball back outside to the open shooter.
“The inside touches in the first half opened up the outside,” Donahue said. “We collapsed and they made shots.”
Bucket after bucket helped the Yellow Jackets build a 16-3 lead less than five minutes into the game.
In order to come back, BC relied on its outside game as opposed to driving it inside. While Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller is intimidating in the low post, the Eagles thrived when taking the game to him. But they frequently failed to do so. Hanlan did not get his first score of the night until 10:46 remained in the first half. The sophomore guard drove to the hoop and was fouled, cutting the away team’s lead to nine after knocking down his and-1.
BC did not look to the lane enough in the first half, which was puzzling because it won that battle 14-8 in the period, and 26-14 on the night.
On the other end, Miller and Kammeon Holsey gave Eddie Odio and Ryan Anderson fits. Holsey was perfect from the field in the first half and made it look simple to maneuver against the Eagles down low.
Georgia Tech’s shooting prowess helped it mount a 34-15 advantage, but BC cut its deficit to 10 through a 9-0 run three-fourths of the way through the first half.
As the Eagles got some stops and forced turnovers, Donahue and the bench got fired up. Hanlan capped off the spurt by following a missed shot he took after putting Corey Heyward’s ankles in disarray with a simple head fake near the top of the key.
After the break, it looked as if BC would begin to take advantage of its opponent’s vulnerabilities down low. Rahon started off the second half by going straight to the rim for a layup.
While Georgia Tech was able to find its stroke coming out of the gate, it quickly shut down. The Yellow Jackets were mediocre from the field in the second half, shooting just 32 percent.
Despite going down by 18 to start the half, the Eagles found their confidence. Jackson got hot from distance and a follow from Eddie Odio after a miss in transition by Hanlan got the Eagles within 10. Hanlan would complete the 10-0 run and put the Eagles down by just eight points.
Then the energy came out defensively. The Eagles began to trap the Yellow Jackets in the lane and under the hoop. In fact, it was a defensive trio of Patrick Heckmann, Jackson and Odio that helped steal the ball on the way to Hanlan’s run-finishing hoop.
Throughout the half, the Eagles crawled their way back. By attacking the rim like Heckmann did to cut the lead to one with a thunderous one-handed slam, BC came close, but remained far away from victory.
Jackson forced shots down the stretch and Rahon did the same, looking to tie the game up at 59. After the latter’s miss, Golden would knock a triple down at the other end to all but end the affair, before Jason Morris went down the Eagles’ throats for a dunk that put the tie beyond doubt.
The game was just another of the many frustrating match-ups the Eagles have participated in all season, another contest in which an early hole was too deep for BC to crawl out of.
“You can’t expect to always try to win a game with a comeback,” Hanlan said.