Boston College men’s basketball was trailing by 15 points, nearly seven minutes into the second half of Wednesday’s game against Colgate. Both Teddy Hawkins and Jerome Robinson had just picked up their third fouls of the evening, and head coach Jim Christian’s group looked out of sorts. But everything was about to change.
After Ky Bowman knocked down a pair of free throws, the Raiders’ Sean O’Brien brought the ball up the court. Dana Batt set a screen on Hawkins and cut toward the basket. Robinson, who was supposed to switch on the pick and roll, was caught sleeping. But as soon as O’Brien passed the ball inside to Batt, the junior turned on the jets. A few steps, and Robinson was already at the basket. He leapt in the air and swatted Batt’s shot off the glass.
At the time, the block appeared insignificant, but it was the play that jumpstarted Robinson’s scoring spree and the Eagles’ second-half comeback. On the next two possessions, the Raleigh, N.C. native hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Shortly after that, Robinson penetrated Colgate’s zone defense and finished at the rim for an easy two. Soon the 10-2 stretch turned into a 27-8 run. In the back half of play, Robinson scored 19 points and made all four of his 3-point attempts, and the Eagles went on to win, 83-79.
For the most part, the Raiders’ (2-2) long-distance shooting was the story of the first half. But, early on, Colgate’s outside shots weren’t falling. In fact, the Raiders missed 11 of their first 13 triples. Still, Colgate was on top. The mere threat of its marksmanship was enough to draw BC’s (5-1) big men out of the paint.
Thanks to Batt, who routinely slipped underneath the basket for wide-open finishes at the rim, Colgate got off to a 13-2 lead. At just 6-foot-9, Batt was clearly overmatched on paper. But that didn’t stop the center from making his mark.
Bowman put an end to the Raiders’ run, and, with the help of Hawkins got the Eagles back in the game. Then, all of a sudden, both teams started to heat up from the field. Trading jumper for jumper, BC had no shot at reclaiming the lead—something they hadn’t had since the opening minute of the game. Eventually, the Eagles went cold again, in large part due to a handful of turnovers. But Colgate didn’t take its foot off the gas.
Led by Will Rayman and Jordan Swopshire, the Raiders netted five shots from 3-point land in the final five and a half minutes of the half. Time and time again, Colgate beat BC off the dribble, and when an Eagles defender rotated, the Raiders seamlessly found the open man, or drove to the hole. With O’Brien’s 3-pointer, less than 15 seconds before the buzzer, the Raiders entered the half up, 41-27.
Right off the bat, BC’s perimeter shooting drastically improved in the second half. On the Eagles’ first possession of the period, Hawkins dialed up a trey from the left side of the arc. Then, a few minutes later, Robinson knocked one down from the top of the key. The problem was, Colgate still wasn’t missing. That was, until Robinson’s block.
While Robinson was lighting up the box score, Christian turned to the press, and switched to a smaller lineup—one that was designed to take the Raiders off the 3-point line. For a while, it did just that. Colgate went over three minutes without even attempting a shot from downtown during the Eagles’ monster run.
Robinson, who scored 21 points in the second half of Sunday’s game against La Salle, was, once again, thriving when it mattered most. The junior tied it all up at 53 with less than nine minutes to go in the game. Soon after, a pair of Hawkins free throws gave BC the lead. The turnaround was capped off by Bowman and Chatman. Off a steal, Bowman sprinted down the court and delivered on a one-handed slam. About a minute later, Chatman drilled a 3-pointer.
But before things could really get out of hand, Jack Ferguson halted the Eagles’ run with a trey of his own. Out of nowhere, Colgate found its rhythm again. Rayman and Swopshire continued to make plays, but the Raiders couldn’t get closer than six points of BC.
So, with one minute to go, Colgate started fouling. What was a game of runs was now a free throw contest. A couple of missed shots from the charity stripe and another Ferguson 3-pointer brought the Raiders within three points of the Eagles. Struggling from the line, BC entrusted the ball with Chatman, the team’s best shooter. He lived up to the name, knocking down four free throws in the final 30 seconds of play. O’Brien made one last Colgate 3-pointer, albeit meaningless, and the Eagles escaped with a win—their fifth of the season.
Obviously, Christian wasn’t pleased with his team’s 17 turnovers, perimeter defense, or its first half offensive production. But he was appreciative of his team’s resiliency.
“At the end of the day, it’s a long season,” Christian said. “You’re going to play a lot of different games. It was great to see our heart and come back. Sometimes you have to win like this.”
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff