Following a confidence-inspiring win over the New Mexico Lobos on Thursday evening at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Boston College men’s basketball team dropped a disappointing contest to the West Virginia Mountaineers by a score of 70-66 on Friday. Heading into the second half of the semifinal matchup in the annual Tip-Off, the Eagles held a 32-21 lead over the Mountaineers.
The Eagles started the game off strong, controlling the first half by holding the Mountaineers to less than 30 percent shooting. Going into the half, the Eagles felt confident and had a strong chance of heading to the final at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The 32-21 halftime lead began to deteriorate in the second half as the Eagles’ defense began to relent to West Virginia’s offensive attack, though. In stark contrast to their first half shooting, the Mountaineers shot 62 percent from the field in the second half. First-year coach Jim Christian’s defense fell apart and was not able to achieve the same success in limiting the attacking guards of West Virginia as it did in the first half.
While the final score yielded a disappointing result for the Eagles, there are positives to take from this game. First, Olivier Hanlan had yet another solid game, leading the Eagles in scoring with 23 points. Strong scoring has become a hallmark of Hanlan’s game, but one of his weaknesses came into play with a game-high five turnovers to pair with just three assists.
Another bright spot for the Eagles was the performance of senior guard Patrick Heckmann, who put in 14 points, led the team in rebounding with seven, and tied Hanlan for the team lead in assists with three.
This performance from Heckmann is encouraging for the Eagles, and it will be a huge asset to the team’s success if he can continue to complement Hanlan like this.
The Mountaineers are a strong team that have dynamic weapons and are attempting to establish their spot in the competitive Big 12. Overall, this is strong performance for the Eagles. BC was able to hold a commanding lead and almost defeat a solid WVU team, despite only getting 14 minutes from its center, Dennis Clifford, due to foul trouble.
This tournament was a prime opportunity for the Eagles to face solid competition from conferences around the country and see how they stack up. After two games, the results have been encouraging. New Mexico and West Virginia are both solid, competitive teams whose programs have had much more success than BC’s in recent years. To beat one and to push another to the end of the game shows improvement in this program’s performance as it settles into the new era under Christian and his staff.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor