As his body clattered to the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum, Georgia Tech guard Trae Golden yelled, “and one,” and a whistle blew.
His teammates pulled him back up, and he walked with a bit of swagger to the line. The senior was brimming with confidence, and it showed. His free throw with just over 30 seconds remaining in overtime gave Georgia Tech the advantage it sought. It proved justice for Golden as well, as an unsuccessful attack of the basket in the closing seconds of regulation failed to give his team the victory.
Boston College basketball fans have watched the same film countless times this season, and if there was a game that could sum up the BC’s men’s basketball program, it came in the team’s first-round loss in the ACC Tournament. Down by 13 with 8:17 remaining, the Eagles fought back, only to fall short-once again.
The 73-70 defeat to the Yellow Jackets cost BC its season. Taking the court with controversy swirling around the team, the Eagles were down, but not out, and were able to force overtime against Georgia Tech. Earlier in the day, a report in The Boston Globe said that Olivier Hanlan, Joe Rahon, and Ryan Anderson were considering exiting the program. Junior forward Ryan Anderson commented after the game.
“Right now, I’m focusing on kind of just letting everything sink from the season,” Anderson said, before dismissing the question of what his status will be next year.
Another response to the article came from Hanlan, who finished the game with 16 points.
“It’s up in the air,” Hanlan said. “You still focus on this team and trying to get better this summer and everybody’s gonna be here for the summer sessions. So we’re just trying to get better as a team and see what happens in the future.”
Rahon denied the report, which he said he found out about through friends and family.
“My parents were shocked,” Rahon said. “We’ve never even talked to them about it, so that coming into the paper-we were just really confused how it got there. We don’t know who the source is. I’ve never spoken like that to anybody. So there’s no truth to any of that. I’m looking forward to coming into the off-season with these guys and working hard.”
Even with rumors out there, the Eagles still had a game to play. Shooting the ball was a struggle for both teams to start. Miss after miss cost each side the opportunity to edge its nose out in front. In what was a poorly played first half by the standards of both teams, the first basket of the game was met with an ironic cheer as Patrick Heckmann hit from the line.
Junior center KC Caudill was thrust into the paint again by Donahue, who gave the BC big man another start. Not known for his shooting prowess, Caudill was able to spin and knock down a jumper from in front of the charity stripe to give BC a bit of momentum.
His duties came mostly on the defensive end, though, as he was tasked with guarding Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller. Caudill and Magarity switched when covering the No. 11 seed’s threat, but Miller was always able to fend off the pair, as well as Anderson.
BC had an advantage that was as big as six in the first half, but a run from the Yellow Jackets gave them a lead they would not relinquish until the back end of Olivier Hanlan’s 1-and-1 with 5.2 seconds remaining.
As the Eagles failed to find their touch from behind the arc, Georgia Tech’s offense was able to capitalize. With Caudill taken out for most of the second half as well, the Eagles were left with Anderson to size up against Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter Jr.-not to mention Miller.
But defensively, the Eagles began to click. Down the stretch, traps occurred on every possession and Georgia Tech gave in, turning the ball over. It gave BC a path back into the game. The momentum swung when Garland Owens forced his way to the hoop, getting a three-point play to halve the Yellow Jacket’s lead with under three minutes remaining. BC had hope.
Hanlan went to the line with just 5.2 seconds remaining and was able to collect himself at the line and knock down the second foul shot after he missed the first.
After Golden could not hit a buzzer-beater to win the game, BC was able to jump out to an advantage in the extra period, though the Yellow Jackets kept it to a one-possession game.
Golden’s three-point play gave his team a 69-67 lead in the game’s final minute.
Defense from the Yellow Jackets kept the Eagles from penetrating, though, and the ball went down low to Anderson. With the season in the hands of the junior forward, he leaped across the lane, only to miss a hook shot from the right side of the rim.
Heckmann fouled senior forward Kammeon Holsey, who made both his foul shots to ice the Eagles. The game was over, despite a last-gasp triple from Jackson.
The biggest question still revolves around the team’s head coach Steve Donahue, who many believe is on the hot seat in Chestnut Hill after his team finished 8-24-the worst record in his four-season tenure.
In front of the media, however, Donahue was calm, and lauded the team’s improvement over a wild season.
“This has been the craziest year in my 30 years of coaching in the sense that I said this all along,” Donahue said. “I thought we played really good basketball for the 19 games in the ACC, and I counted five bad halves. I’ve done that before with teams and we have 13 or 14 bad halves and still have a good record.”
Donahue also said that he looks forward to continuing to work with the program in order to get it to where it needs to be.
“I can’t wait to get back on the court and get better and get ready for next year,” Donahue said. “I just think we are so darned close with all the things we discussed.”