The Eagles seem to just keep finding ways to lose close games, this time to the Miami Hurricanes in double overtime, 89-86.
Dimitri Batten jumped the passing route like an expert cornerback and snagged the loose ball.
The Eagles needed his hustle play—they were clinging to a two-point lead with just over a minute left in overtime.
Aaron Brown missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing Boston College offensive attack, but no matter—Patrick Heckmann swooped in from behind the arc in the corner to corral the offensive rebound on the opposite side of the court.
He flung the ball out to Batten, and, now relieved, the Eagles could work with a fresh 35 seconds on the shot clock. Every BC player touched the rock during that time, and with time winding down on the possession, Heckmann slipped in a beautiful pass to a wide-open Dennis Clifford, who posterized the defense with authority.
25 seconds and a four-point lead—easy, right?
Not so fast.
At times, it seemed like BC had locked up its first home conference victory of the season. The Eagles, however, just keep finding ways to lose. On the backs of a few clutch buckets from the University of Miami during the last seconds of the first overtime, the Hurricanes (16-9, 6-6 ACC) pulled away in double OT, leaving the Eagles (9-15, 1-11 ACC) in their wake.
Foul. Missed dunk. Offensive rebound. Missed layup. Defensive rebound. Turnover. Turnover. Foul.
Before any points were scored, the first 58 seconds of the game went exactly like this—defensive mistakes, errant passes, lazy dribbling in abundance from both teams. Neither one showed up ready to play for a weekday matinee at Conte Forum.
“Seriously? Wake up!”
BC head coach Jim Christian bellowed commands to his players from his post on the sideline in front of the home team’s bench. Looking at his team struggle in the first minute of the game reminded Christian of the loss against Syracuse University from last week, when the Eagles gave up and faltered down the stretch in a double-digit defeat. Both teams seemed to be suffering from a severe case of the Mondays—but they would both start to heat up in due time.
Each team’s star—Olivier Hanlan for the Eagles, Sheldon McClellan for the Canes—picked up the game’s pace. For a stretch, it seemed like these two players scored every bucket for either end, which each trying to outduel the other. In the end, Hanlan won the battle, but The U won the war.
Hanlan did it all for BC on Monday, only sitting for one of the game’s 50 minutes. He scored a season-high 32 points and added eight rebounds in the defeat, but he wasn’t thinking about his personal statistics after the game.
“It’s tough,” Hanlan said. “We’re up four in the first overtime and just needed that one stop, but we broke down at the last second. They made some pretty nice plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
Christian noted the fact that Hanlan’s play has been on another level as of late, and he said that he has been having an excellent season. One thing he wishes, though, is that BC would win a few of these games for its star player.
“Olivier let the game come to him, and only had one turnover in 49 minutes, so he runs our team well,” Christian said. “I feel bad because he needs to get a couple of these. We needed to get this one for him.”
Heckmann proved to be Hanlan’s sidekick for the day, and he also had an astounding effort. The senior guard from Germany stuffed the stat sheet, contributing 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three blocks before fouling out when going for a rebound under the Miami basket. Unfortunately, his day will be remembered for his one major mistake.
As time expired at the end of the first half, Heckmann received a pass off an inbounds play from Hanlan and faked a pass back to him. Two defenders bit, and Heckmann saw daylight. Driving to the hole, he rose up, absorbed a bit of contact and rolled the ball onto the rim with his fingertips. It was a textbook-quality play—minus the finish. The ball’s momentum was stunted on the front rim and it rolled gracefully into the hands of a Hurricane defender.
After his fifth foul, Heckmann looked visibly distraught, and the emotion of the moment overcame him.
“Patrick made some amazing plays down the stretch, and he played almost the whole game,” Hanlan said of his teammate. “He played his balls off, and he needs to keep his head up.”
With just six contests left for BC in the season, the Eagles must find a way to prevent winnable game after winnable game from slipping from their grasp. But with each new loss, one can’t help but to replay the words of Christian over and over.
Seriously? Wake up.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor