Once again, a chance at a win for Boston College men’s basketball fell by the wayside against Clemson in a matchup that looked to be almost a repeat of its loss to North Carolina State. The Eagles put up a good fight against the Tigers, trailing by four going into the second half and even leading for stretches after the break, but again were plagued by sloppy play, en route to a 76-66 setback.
Although Clemson (16-11, 6-8 Atlantic Coast) is a tough competitor, and it was a constant back-and-forth battle, it’s not like BC (13-13, 4-10) couldn’t have easily had this game. The Eagles struggled at the end of the second half and were too slow to respond on defense. Ultimately, what it comes down to is the fact that BC needs to work better on defense together and more cohesively on offense, instead of losing momentum down the stretch. Just when it looks like the Eagles are getting back into the game and building up momentum, they start committing turnovers, can’t get back in transition, and give up easy baskets in succession. Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Tigers:
1) Jairus Hamilton
Jairus Hamilton took on a starring role for one of the first times this year, finishing with a season-high 17 points. He also chipped in six rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Hamilton played well against Clemson’s aggressive defense and managed to help the Eagles get quite a few points on the board. He had six points in the first half and really showcased his skills on the court, slipping inside the paint to score. He also made some crucial passes on offense, which assisted in key offensive plays, like the one where he found Nik Popovic down low for an easy basket two minutes out of the break. In the second half, he stopped a prolonged Tigers run with a steal before drawing a foul and hitting at the charity stripe. He helped keep the Eagles in the fight, despite the pressure the Tigers were delivering. He was 6-of-15 from the floor, 2-of-8 from behind the arc, and 3-of-4 from the foul line.
2) Popovic in Trouble
BC had a lot of trouble with its transition defense in the first half, and it didn’t help that it ran into early foul trouble. Popovic was sent to the bench nine minutes into the first half, due to two personal fouls. In the second half, he started out well by making key offensive plays, but he soon picked up his fourth foul and was headed to the bench yet again. He came back into the game when the Eagles were having a lot of trouble in the final minutes but quickly fouled out. He still managed to score 12 points and had four rebounds and five assists, but the Eagles’ mindset was not the same having to work around the fact that Popovic was benched throughout the game. He finished having played just 18 minutes, a far cry from the 37 he registered in BC’s last win against Miami—where he had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
3) Bowman’s Inconsistency
Ky Bowman set the pace for the Eagles but didn’t really light up the box score until the second half. Being so close to home made it an even more important game for him, and he showed a different side of himself in the second half. He was 1-of-7 from the field in a forgettable first period, but he put in a improved effort in the second, even hitting a pair of 3-pointers as part of a 10-0 BC run. Bowman shot better from behind the arc than anywhere else on the court, going 4-of-9 from distance but just 2-of-12 elsewhere. He struggled to find the net late in the second half, but it was partially because Clemson was putting extreme amounts of pressure on him. He was double-teamed and denied open looks for a majority of the game, and his teammates couldn’t capitalize on the open opportunities. Bowman is the team’s greatest asset, and because he was guarded so well, it was hard to score. He finished with five rebounds, two assists, and a total of 17 points—his fourth game under 20 points in a row.
It was a big loss for the Eagles not having Jordan Chatman in the lineup, who sat out with a nagging finger injury. Often, he has served as BC’s secondary scoring option and a major part of the team’s game beyond the arc. In addition to Chatman, combined with Popovic’s foul trouble and the fact that Wynston Tabbs still isn’t back from injury, BC was limited offensively and posted its third sub-100 offensive efficiency for the third time in four games. Along with Bowman and Jairus Hamilton, Steffon Mitchell managed to help the team out with seven points, whie Johncarlos Reyes also made a decent contribution with six points after coming off the bench. Overall, the Eagles had a 46.7 percent effective field goal percentage, on par with their poor 56-point showing against Syracuse
5) Lost Momentum
It was a fast-paced game set in place by both teams. The second half included a number of lead changes—that is, until the nine-minute mark when BC seemed to fade. Unfortunately for head coach Jim Christian, that has become a theme against stronger ACC competitors. The Eagles seem to become too complacent on defense and lose momentum to finish out the game strong. Their defense throughout was inconsistent and all over the place, allowing the Tigers to launch open shots and run in transition. Clemson’s defense was really strong and got more aggressive in crunch time, allowing the Tigers to take the lead and control the game—BC was even held to a scoreless run of five minutes with just over seven minutes left to play. For Eagles fans, it has to be upsetting to watch a team that puts a great effort out there in the first and beginning of the second half but can’t seem to follow through until garbage time. With the noticeable caveat of injuries, it’s a troubling trend that the Eagles transform into a different team when confronted with late pushes from opponents.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor