For the second game in a row, Boston College men’s basketball pushed a conference game down to the wire. But for the second game in a row, the Eagles could not finish. This time, it was against Wake Forest University.
The Demon Deacons outlasted the Eagles for an 85-80 victory in Conte Forum on Tuesday night. While Wake Forest (13-9, 4-6 Atlantic Coast) jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half, BC (9-14, 2-8) battled back and led by as many as seven points in the second half. But in the end, BC couldn’t hold on to the lead, losing its sixth-straight game.
The Big Three
For the second game in a row, Jordan Chatman played an excellent game, continuing to emerge as a powerful player and potential member of a big three also consisting of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. He led the Eagles in scoring and was the game’s second-highest scorer, finishing with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. He also went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
It was clear that his teammates expected him to ride the momentum from his record-tying performance against Virginia Tech—every time he put up a shot, the entire bench stood up, and whenever he made it, the bench and sparse crowd erupted in cheers.
After the game, Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning emphasized that Chatman’s explosive performance against Virginia Tech caught his attention, and that his team planned to prevent Chatman from taking threes.
“We didn’t do that great of a job, because he’s 4-of-6 [from beyond the arc],” Manning said. “He had a really good game across the line.”
Chatman wasn’t the only BC player to have a big game. Bowman finished with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, seven boards, and five assists. Robinson scored 17 points and contributed two boards and two rebounds. Put together, Chatman, Bowman, and Robinson scored 57 of BC’s 80 points. No other Eagle scored in double digits, although Connar Tava scored nine points.
While Chatman, Bowman, and Robinson weren’t the only impactful players in the game, they were certainly the biggest scoring threats for the Eagles. If the three of them can continue to perform at high levels in upcoming games, it bodes well for BC.
John Collins stands tall, at 6-foot-10. He’s strong. He makes his presence known on the court. And he certainly made his presence known against the Eagles. In the second half, BC could not seem to find an answer for Collins, who recorded a double-double with 26 points and 16 rebounds.
Despite his eventual dominance, Collins was relatively quiet in the first half. He scored only eight points, grabbing eight boards in the process. Manning was unhappy with his big man’s inability to draw fouls. At halftime, Collins had taken no free throws.
“We talked about his zero free-throw attempts at halftime,” Manning said. “It wasn’t much of a talk.”
Collins came out of the locker room focused and ready. He certainly heard Manning’s message about drawing fouls, as he made five trips to the free-throw line in the second half. Collins shot a cool 80 percent from the line, proving that he is accurate when he gets to the line.
He was most dangerous during a five-minute stretch during which Wake Forest scored 14 unanswered points. Collins scored 13 of those 14 points, including seven points from the charity stripe.
Part of the reason why the Eagles struggled to contain him later in the game was that Nik Popovic and Mo Jeffers, two of BC’s big men, ran into foul trouble in the second half. Both Popovic and Jeffers finished with five fouls. Popovic picked up his fifth foul with five minutes remaining in the game, and Jeffers picked up his fifth 21 seconds later. While Popovic and Jeffers have struggled at times to match up against big men in the ACC this season, without them the Eagles were hard-pressed to find someone big and strong enough to contain Collins. In the end, 6-foot-6 Connar Tava had to match up against Collins for the final four and a half minutes of play. While Tava did a relatively good job against Collins, there was no denying the dominance of Wake Forest’s big man.
“In the second half, he was much more assertive,” Manning said.
BC turned the ball over 11 times over the course of the game compared to Wake Forest’s eight. Robinson accounted for four of BC’s turnovers, while Jeffers lost the ball three times. Over their previous five games, the Eagles averaged 15 turnovers per game, so 11 was an improvement. But the 11 came at inopportune moments for BC.
With just over nine minutes remaining in the game, Bowman made two free throws to give the Eagles their largest lead of the game at seven points. If BC had made some key defensive stops and continued its offensive hot streak, it may have picked up a victory. But instead, the Eagles went scoreless for five minutes. Robinson, Bowman, and Popovic committed three turnovers in that time period. Wake Forest—Collins, specifically—capitalized on the turnovers, scoring four points off of those losses.
The Eagles also hurt themselves in profiting off turnovers. Wake Forest lost the ball eight times, but BC only scored eight points off of the losses in the entire game. By comparison, Collins alone scored half of that number off of just three BC turnovers. The Demon Deacons as a whole scored 15 points off turnovers.
Featured Image by Kate Mahoney / Heights Staff