With one minute and 46 seconds remaining in Boston College men’s basketball’s Saturday afternoon road game at Clemson, Tigers guard Marcquise Reed stole the ball from Ky Bowman and made a beeline for the hoop, drawing a Chris Herren Jr. foul in the process. It was just the icing on the cake for Reed, who outshined Bowman all day. The senior recorded a season-high 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting, as well as nine rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Bowman—who didn’t score during the opening 16 minutes of regulation—finished with just 17 points and a sub-36 percent clip for the fourth consecutive game.
Behind Duke’s R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson—two locks for the NBA Lottery—Bowman and Reed entered the weekend as the ACC’s next two highest scorers. With Saturday’s performance, Reed is now neck and neck with Bowman in the league scoring ranks, averaging 19.2 points per game. More importantly, Clemson has created a bit more separation from BC in the league standings and is one step closer to securing a first round ACC Tournament bye.
With the game tied at 60 and under four and a half minutes to play, Reed orchestrated a 10-0 Tigers run—of which he scored nine points—and the Eagles, without a fouled-out Nik Popovic, never recovered, letting a second-half rally go to waste for the second time on the road in the last four days with a 76-66 defeat.
The loss isn’t on Bowman by any means. As a whole, the Eagles’ (13-13, 4-10 Atlantic Coast) offense predictably collapsed after starting the half 6-of-9 from the floor, extending a 14-0 run from the end of the opening frame and reclaiming their first lead since the 13 and a half-minute mark. It wasn’t long before BC went without a bucket for four minutes and 28 seconds and, at one point, had missed 12 of its last 14 field goal attempts. It’s also important to note that Bowman—who rounded out the day 6-of-21 from the floor, but 4-of-9 from deep—often had no space on the offensive end of the court, in part because of the absence of Jordan Chatman, who was sidelined with the finger injury that he re-aggravated against North Carolina State.
Even so, head coach Jim Christian’s inconsistent scoring attack had no problems whatsoever in the opening stages of regulation. With Bowman struggling and Chatman out, BC’s frontcourt stepped up, accounting for 21 of the Eagles’ 29 first-half points—including their first 10 of the game. Led by Popovic and Jairus Hamilton, BC shot out of the blocks, making its first four field goal attempts of the day. Clemson (16-11, 6-8), however, didn’t have trouble keeping pace. In fact, the Tigers didn’t waste any time before getting the crowd involved with a pair of Elijah Thomas and Aamir Simms dunks.
Trailing by three, in the early going, Clemson stitched together a 9-1 run that culminated in a David Skara 3-pointer. A Popovic layup and Herren Jr. triple erased the Eagles’ five-point deficit, but the game wouldn’t be tied for long. Foreshadowing his late-game scoring spurt, Reed—the first player to reach double digits on Saturday—came into his own in the back half of the first period. Scoring inside and out, the senior logged 15 of his 17 first-half points in the final eight minutes and eight seconds in the opening frame, including 10 straight to break the 16-16 tie.
Reed was at the forefront of Clemson’s transition offense, which—when all was said and done—scored 20 points off BC’s 13 turnovers. Whether it was Bowman, Herren Jr., or Jared Hamilton, no one seemed to have an answer for Reed. Fortunately for BC, Bowman stopped the bleeding, at the time a 12-4 run, with his first bucket of the game: a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the arc. The Eagles closed out the half on a high note, sinking two straight jumpers, the second being a buzzer-beating, off-balance field goal from Steffon Mitchell.
Two of BC’s most potent scorers, Popovic and Bowman, carried over the momentum to the second period of play. Popovic jumpstarted the second half with a putback and a layup before Bowman dialed up a pair of 3-pointers in the span of one minutes and 10 seconds. Coupled with BC’s strong first-half finish, its 10-0 run to begin the second period created a 14-point swing, one that gifted Christian and Co. with a 39-33 lead. Much like the Eagles’ 15-0 second-half run at N.C. State, the surge came and went with too much time left on the clock.
Soon enough, Clemson started to make up lost ground, and BC’s leverage dissipated—quickly. Scoring six of the game’s next eight points, the Tigers clawed their way back within two points of BC. Then, Bowman and Shelton Mitchell traded 3-pointers, signifying the beginning of what turned into something of a back-and-forth affair. Once again, the Eagles’ frontcourt flourished when it mattered most.
Popovic kissed a turnaround hookshot off the glass, Johncarlos Reyes—who tallied six points and three rebounds in just nine minutes of play—got a shot to go, and Steffon Mitchell’s impressive shooting day continued at the line with a pair of free throws. It was Jairus Hamilton who stole the spotlight, though.
Just when it looked like BC was about to fold, facing an eight-point deficit with under seven minutes left, the ESPN 100 recruit—a Charlotte, N.C. native that left Littlejohn Coliseum with a season-high 17 points—took the game into his own hands. Redeeming himself for a turnover that resulted in a fastbreak layup on the Eagles’ previous possession, Hamilton drained his first 3-pointer of the day. Then, a minute and 40 seconds later, he added another, upping his scoring total to 16 and cutting BC’s deficit to two. His brother, Jared, proceeded to tie the game at 60 points apiece, setting the stage for another close finish.
Well, that’s what many expected it to be. In reality, it was more of the Marcquise Reed show. Aside from a few Bowman layups in garbage time, the Eagles’ offense looked out of sorts down the stretch, particularly after Popovic picked up his fifth personal with just over three minutes remaining. After all, the 6-foot-11 center is both a scoring presence and a facilitator, one that can space the floor for guards like Bowman, Hamilton, and Herren Jr. Fittingly, Clemson closed the game with Reed on the break—only this time, he didn’t score, but instead passed the ball ahead to Clyde Trapp, who promptly threw down an emphatic one-handed dunk.
Now, that’s a finish—something the Eagles, who have now lost second-half leads in six ACC games this season, can’t seem to do.
Featured Image by Michael Caterina / South Bend Tribune Via AP Photo