In the final non-conference game of the season, Boston College men’s basketball suffered a frustrating one-point loss to Hartford in overtime, even with Ky Bowman scoring a career-high 44 points. The Eagles (9-3) played from behind for most of the game, but finally pulled ahead against the visiting Hawks (7-8) toward the closing seconds of play. Bowman was an impressive 14-of-23 from the field, yet even that wasn’t enough to prevent a comeback from the senior-heavy Hartford squad. Although Jordan Chatman was back in the lineup after recovering from an ankle injury, Steffon Mitchell did not dress (day-to-day with a quad injury) and Wynston Tabbs saw minimal floor time due to an apparent knee injury.
The Eagles have several nagging issues to fix before heading into ACC play, especially considering their first two opponents are No. 10 Virginia Tech and undefeated No. 4 Virginia. Before conference play begins on Saturday, here are eight takeaways from Monday’s loss to Hartford.
1) Dominance: It is no secret that Bowman is one of the most dynamic guards in all of college hoops and that was on full display during Monday’s 44-point performance. Whether it was the step-back 3-pointer at the 12:15 mark in the second half or the electric dunk down the lane with a box-and-one defense on him, Bowman was red hot from just about every area of the floor.
2) Youth: Outside of Chatman, Bowman, and Nik Popovic, much of the rotation minutes go to freshmen. While Chris Herren Jr. has been seeing more and more playing time as well as multiple starts, he struggled in some big-game moments on Monday. Herren Jr. got the optimal look down the stretch with BC down two in the closing minutes, but his 3-point attempt clanked off the rim. A veteran player might have attempted an extra pass or drove inside for the two-point shot or at least a foul call. Similar freshmen blunders were evident in Jairus Hamilton’s play, who had six costly turnovers over the course of the game. Without Tabbs to make up for some of his classmates’ mistakes, the Eagles appeared overmatched by a veteran Hartford unit.
3) Squandered: In all three of the Eagles’ losses this year, BC has had chances to win but has let its opponent back into it. In a loss to IUPUI, the Eagles blew a double-digit lead only to lose in the closing minutes. Then, against Providence, BC was up three and infamously chose not to foul, allowing for the three-pointer that fell as time expired and that took the game into overtime. The Hartford matchup mirrored the closing action of the Providence matchup, as BC again could not maintain composure late in the game. An ill-advised foul committed by Chatman on a fadeaway 3-pointer allowed for Hartford to hit three successive foul shots and tie the game, sending it to overtime.
4) Chemistry: While star performances by Bowman or Tabbs can surely save the Eagles, the group still needs to come together as a cohesive unit. The difference between the Hartford starting five and that of the Eagles was ever so apparent in the manner with which the Hartford group was able to move the ball around much easier than the Eagles could. While Herren Jr. and Hamilton can make highlight-reel plays, too often they fall victim to poor shot selection when under duress. The freshman duo teamed up for just 12 points in 75 combined minutes and Herren Jr. was the only one of the two that registered an assist. BC had just nine assists in the loss as nobody but Bowman and Popovic found any offensive success.
5) Depth: For a team so centered around its star players and youth, BC does not have much depth on its bench. When key players like Tabbs and Mitchell are out, the usual bench support of players like Herren Jr. and Reyes are forced to step into the limelight and produce for most of the game, especially when other starters near foul trouble. The reserves often don’t have much success and this results in limited action—and more pressure on head coach Jim Christian’s starters.
6) Misstep: In his first game back from an ankle injury, Chatman was clearly struggling most of the night, scoring just two points and additionally missing his only 3-point attempt. Granted, Bowman got most of the touches throughout regulation, but Chatman will have to bounce back from his injury and provide scoring. Chatman also slipped up during the definitive game-tying 3-pointer. He lost Hartford’s Jason Dunne and foolishly fouled him on the fadeaway attempt. The foul should have came the moment Dunne touched the ball, but instead his three free throws tied up the score due to Chatman’s folly.
7) Sloppy: The game went to overtime, but neither team cracked 80 points, befitting of a poor offensive game—Bowman excluded. The Hawks’ scoring efforts were not up to snuff as their usual hot-handed 3-point game was nonexistent—they shot just 6-of-23 from distance. BC held a slight edge in field goal percentage but still just shot 45.1 percent. If you remove Bowman’s 23 shots from the ledger, it gets ugly fast. The rest of the team was 13-of-36, a woeful 36.1 percent mark that was enough to keep the Eagles out of the win column. Yes, Bowman was unstoppable, but the rest of BC was unable to shoulder even the smallest of scoring burdens.
8) Size: While Popovic and Hamilton seemed to pressure the Hawks on the defensive end of the court—mostly due to their size—opportunistic scoring opportunities, many of which were a byproduct of Hartford’s smaller lineup, will most likely not be found in later ACC matchups. The late and-one dunk by Popovic is unlikely to occur against a behemoth like Zion Williamson when the Eagles eventually take on Duke. The powerful shot block by Jairus Hamilton late in the game most likely will not come against a much more talented post player like UNC’s Luke Maye. As the Eagles enter ACC play, their size and matchups will surely be challenged.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor