Eagles Fall Short Against Clutch Cavaliers

“At the game’s most pivotal times, they make big shots, they get big rebounds,” Coach Jim Christian said. “That’s the difference right now.”

On Saturday afternoon, a few big shots and rebounds were the only differences between Boston College men’s basketball hanging with No. 2 Virginia and falling behind the deep, talented team. BC managed to keep with the Cavaliers for almost 35 minutes, before finally succumbing to fatigue and missed opportunities. In the final five, UVA shut down all hope from the Eagles and pulled away, finishing with a 66-51 win.

In the first half, BC played what was perhaps its best 20 minutes all season. Although the Eagles only led for a total of about two minutes at the beginning of the half, they never let the game fall out of reach. UVA held its largest lead in the half of five points for just 10 seconds.
Even while facing a top defensive squad, BC found ways to score in this stretch. The team went 4-10 from beyond the arc, including 2-2 from Will Magarity, who has attempted just 14 threes all year. BC also avoided the trap of settling for 3-pointers—something that has almost always caught them in a cold spell—and inside kept the focus on driving.

If BC’s offense played well in the first half, its defense played even better. While fouling caused BC’s demise early on in its last matchup with a ranked team (No. 2 Duke), the Eagles picked up just two fouls in the first nine minutes. They gave Virginia just four attempts from the charity stripe in the half, while also holding the Cavaliers to 37 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.

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Believe it or not, BC shot 40 percent for both.

The Eagles also shut down yet another team’s leading scorer—this time, it was Justin Anderson. The guard, who entered averaging 14.9 points per game with a remarkable .663 effective field goal percentage, went 0-8 from the field and 0-4 from long range.

At halftime, Conte fans—all 8,112 of them, a terrific turnout for BC basketball—were treated to special show. About a dozen kids took to center court, each wearing dark clothing and neon green shoes. They proceeded to put on a fantastic display using jump ropes, leaping and tumbling in a series of synchronized routines.

The first 10 minutes of the second played out slightly differently than the first half, but to a similar result. BC turned to a different face for its scoring production: Patrick Heckmann. The senior forward, who has started every game for BC this season, always manages to make an impact in the game, even if he rarely puts up big numbers on the scoreboard. Last game against Harvard, however, he turned on the gas, putting up 14 total points and a crucial nine in overtime, giving the Eagles the lift it needed over the Crimson.

In this game, Heckmann also found his shot. He put up nine points in the first five minutes, including a 3-pointer that put BC in the lead and the Conte crowd on its feet.

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Yet, the Cavaliers always responded. The Eagles began to foul more, allowing UVA 17 attempts in the second alone. Virginia made 14, including 13 from Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes. Brogdon led the way for UVA in the second half, finishing with a game-high 20 points.

After the 10-minute mark, however, BC could no longer find ways to score, or stop UVA without fouling. The Eagles made just three field goals in that final stretch, and were held without any in the last five minutes. UVA, meanwhile, missed just four field goals, and padded its lead with a barrage of free throws. With four minutes to play, UVA took its first double-digit lead and never looked back.

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Christian admitted that part of this late-game slide came from fatigue. BC’s starting five have accounted for 71 percent of the team’s minutes this season, whereas UVA’s play just 65 percent. The Eagles also came off an outing that went to overtime just three nights earlier.

“We gotta get some other guys going. We had a lot of point-blank shots,” Christian said. “If you’re going to beat the No. 2 ranked team in the country, an unbelievable defensive team, when you get angles, you have to finish those plays.”

This loss dropped the Eagles back down to .500 overall and 0-4 in conference play. They are just one of three ACC teams (Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) that have yet to pick up a win in-conference, but they have also had one of the toughest runs—two games against No. 2 ranked teams, a four-point loss to Miami, and a one-point loss to Pittsburgh in overtime. Even though BC’s outing fell short of getting it a win in this one, a similar performance in its coming games will merit better results.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

About Alec Greaney 97 Articles
Alec is the host of Eagle-Eyed, the editor-in-chief of The Heights Newsletter, and the A1 editor for The Heights. The fact you're reading this means he didn't break the site during his tenure running the internet. You can follow Alec on Twitter @AlecGreaney.