Judging by the smile on V.J. Beachem’s face as he ran down the court, the senior was having a lot of fun on his Senior night.
He had just pulled off an acrobatic, highlight-reel play, jumping around Nik Popovic on the baseline and going up and under the backboard for the lay-up. On Notre Dame’s next trip down the court, Bonzie Colson got the rebound, put back, and the foul over four BC defenders. A fired up Colson embraced Beachem, as the duo led No. 19 Notre Dame (23-7, 12-5 Atlantic Coast) to a 82-66 victory over Boston College (9-21, 2-15).
From the moment Beachem hit his first three and the South Bend crowd threw confetti up into the air, the game belonged to the senior. Beachem led all scorers with 22 points and was the impetus behind a big first half run. After a big transition dunk and an easy drive down the lane, Beachem hit a pull-up three in transition to give Notre Dame its first lead of the game.
Up until that point, the Eagles were efficient on offense, spreading the ball around effectively, limiting turnovers, and getting easy looks. Mo Jeffers carved out some space down low, muscling out Colson for four points, while Jordan Chatman added five with some sharp-shooting. Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson then started to do their thing. A big steal and an and-one for Bowman put BC up by a six, and then Robinson added five quick points, including a deep 3-pointer to keep the Eagles in control with a 26-19 point lead with 7:15 left in the half.
That Robinson triple would be the last BC bucket until the 1:14 mark, as the Eagles went completely cold to finish the half. The Eagles’ shooting percentage hovered around 38 percent, while Beachem led the Irish—shooting near 50 percent—on a 17-2 run to end the half. Eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes plagued BC and allowed the small and quick Fightin’ Irish team to play to its strengths in transition.
After a promising start against Notre Dame for the second time this season, the Eagles trailed at the half, 36-28.
At the start of the second half, the game returned to the battle between Jeffers and Colson that had disappeared since the opening minutes of the game. The two centers traded buckets in the opening minutes of the half, as BC battled to stay in the game.
The match-up between the 6-foot-9 Jeffers and the 6-foot-5 Colson was an intriguing one throughout the game, as opposing skillsets clashed. Jeffers used his height advantage to push his way to the rim, but Colson made up for his lack of height with a 7-foot wingspan. Armed with a solid jumper and a finesse game, Colson could reach around any of the Eagles defenders to get to the rim.
Jeffers reached double digits in scoring for the fifth time this season and finished the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Colson put up 18 points and 11 boards for his 18th double-double of the year.
A.J. Turner eventually found his rhythm, hitting two quick 3-pointers with 15 minutes left to cut the deficit to six, 48-42. Turner finished with 13 points in his supporting role, but couldn’t do enough to spark the Eagles. As a result, Notre Dame went on a 10-2 run to extend the lead to 16 with ten minutes left.
BC would not get back into the game after that. The combination of Colson and Beachem, plus the support of Matt Farrell, who put up 14 points, was too much for BC’s duo of Bowman and Robinson. Bowman did his part with 19 points, but Robinson struggled after showing an early flash of scoring. While he finished with six assists and five rebounds, he only scored nine points off 3-of-13 shooting (1-of-5 from deep). All nine of his points came in the first half. The most telling part of Robinson’s box score was that he was 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Robinson loves getting to the rim and he’s very good at finishing strong or getting to the line, but he disappeared against the Irish. His only two free throw attempts were the first points of the game.
As Notre Dame neared a 20-point lead with under two minutes left, head coach Mike Brey called for the foul so that he his two seniors, Beachem and Steve Vasturia, could exit to a standing ovation. The only excitement at the end of the half was a dunk by senior walk-on Patrick Mazza, who had the 9,000 in attendance chanting his name.
While Vasturia only finished with 10 points, Beachem did more than enough stave off a quick start by the Eagles and secure an 82-66 victory on his celebratory night.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor