Eagles’ Comeback Falls Short Against No. 15 Providence

With 4:41 left in the game, Rodney Bullock took a pass from Kyron Cartwright, dribbled, gathered himself, and hit a nice reverse layup with defenders draped all over him to give the Providence Friars (9-1) an 11-point lead over the visiting Boston College Eagles (3-6). The double-digit lead effectively ended BC’s hopes of a comeback against No. 15 Providence, as the now-healthy Eagles struggled mightily to score against the Friars’ stingy defense, eventually falling 66-51 on Wednesday night.

Bullock scored only two points in the first half for the Friars, but exploded for 15 points after halftime when it was announced that Providence’s top two players, Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, would sit for the rest of the game. Bentil was on pace for the best game of his career at the time of his injury late in the first half, when he landed awkwardly after a jump shot. Despite playing less than half the game, Bentil still finished with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting and eight rebounds, to go along with several impressive blocks. Time and time again, the skilled forward made the Eagles pay with his smooth post moves and willingness to run the floor for easy buckets.

Dunn played 15 minutes in the first half before succumbing to illness, scoring four points and dishing out three assists while helping Providence build a 14-point halftime lead. Dunn’s stat line doesn’t do him justice, as the gifted point guard was instrumental in Providence’s first-half success—running the Friars’ offense with precision, playing good defense, and getting the right guys the ball at the right times.

With Providence playing without its two star players for the entire second half, the stage seemed set for the Eagles to come back and steal a win. Unfortunately for BC, Bullock refused to let it happen. Sure enough, BC scored the first six points of the second half to make it a single-digit game, but just as the Eagles seemed to be gaining momentum, Bullock made a jump shot. With 11:37 to go and the Eagles trailing 41-37 after a few nice shots by seldom-used guard Darryl Hicks, Bullock hit a layup to take the wind out of BC’s sails. This same pattern repeated itself again and again in the second half. Every time it seemed BC was poised to get back in the game and make things interesting, Bullock would hit a big shot to halt the Eagles’ momentum, culminating with his twisting reverse layup with 4:41 to go to push the Friars’ lead back to double digits.

While Bullock is to be credited for turning back BC’s momentum whenever the Eagles made a push, BC can’t help but feel that it missed a great opportunity to snatch a road win over a top-25 opponent on Wednesday night. Midway through the second half, the Eagles had cut the deficit to four points, momentum was on their side, and their opponents were down their two best players. That was the time for BC to go for the throat, as head coach Jim Christian has pleaded for them to do all season long. Unfortunately, as has become the norm during this six-game losing streak, the Eagles shrank in the heat of the moment.

After Bullock hit a layup to extend BC’s deficit to six, Matt Milon missed a three and Carter turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions. That was all Providence needed to get back in its groove and hit Bullock for another couple easy looks. While the Eagles got an unexpected contribution from Hicks, a redshirt sophomore, they failed to get much offense from their more established players until it was too late. Eli Carter missed his first five shots and finished 2-for-11 for BC in the first half in what was ultimately a disappointing performance from one of the Eagle’s few senior leaders. While Carter finished the game with 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting, it was too little, too late for the Eagles, who failed to get the buckets they needed in crunch time.

Featured Image by Stephan Savoia / AP Photo