Tag Archives: North Carolina State

Statement Season: Ky Bowman’s Freshman Campaign Disproves Doubters

It was just like old times.

Boston College men’s basketball was back in Madison Square Garden—the site of its last conference tournament championship. A title that is now 16 years old.

For two and a half decades, BC made the annual trip to New York for the Big East Tournament. Competing among the likes of Syracuse, Connecticut, Villanova, and Georgetown, the Eagles took part in what is now the longest-running conference tournament at any one venue in all of college basketball. Win or lose, the atmosphere was unrivaled.

When BC left for the ACC in 2005, the program lost that aura.

But for one night, the Eagles got it back. Prior to the start of league play, head coach Jim Christian and Co. traveled to the Garden to play Auburn in the Under Armour Reunion game on Dec. 12, 2016. Coming into the contest, BC was riding a two-game skid and sat at a mere 4-5. Having already lost to Nicholls State and Hartford, the Eagles’ chances of defeating a Power Five opponent, let alone a winning one, were slim.

Yet, right from the get-go, BC looked like a changed team. And one player in particular looked especially different. Ky Bowman had dyed his hair a flaming-hot red. But that wasn’t all. Coincidence or not, for the first time all season, Bowman caught fire. The freshman guard—who was averaging just 6.6 points per game at the time—nearly doubled that mark by intermission. In fact, it was Bowman who teamed up with Jerome Robinson and A.J. Turner to score 10 of the game’s first 14 points.

“There was just a confidence about [Bowman] that was kind of spreading to the whole team in that particular game,” Christian said thinking back on that day. “It was his moment. You knew, ‘Okay, this is going to be the guy.’ He’s got something here.”

Although Bowman’s numbers slipped in the second half of that game, his impact was undeniable. After all, he was the one that set up Nik Popovic’s game-winning tip-in at the buzzer. With just a few seconds remaining in the game, Bowman sprinted into the lane and put up a contested layup. It missed by a matter of inches, but Popovic was there to put it back.

What’s telling is not that Bowman missed the shot, rather, it’s that he was the one taking it. One game removed from logging three points in nine minutes of play, Bowman had emerged as a go-to scoring threat. In essence, he had added another dimension to Christian’s offense.

And for the first time in over a year, a sense of optimism surrounded BC basketball.

“It’s a new beginning for us, and that’s what we were telling everybody in the huddle,” Robinson said in a Fox Sports postgame interview. “It’s going to be a whole different team.”

While it was a game reminiscent of the past, the future of the program was on full display.

***

As soon as Bowman arrived on campus this summer, the coaching staff knew it had something special. From the moment he took the court, his athleticism, speed, and scoring ability were evident. But when the regular season began, Bowman failed to produce. Suddenly, he wasn’t making the shots that he was draining in practice. The most routine of passes resulted in turnovers.

Not to mention that he struggled on the fastbreak. His speed—normally a strength—became his greatest weakness. Time and time again, Bowman zoomed past defenders while bringing the ball up the floor. But once he passed halfcourt, he was almost going too fast. His court vision was clouded and his ball control was erratic.

Throughout the first quarter of the season, Bowman looked raw. He looked like what he was: a kid who was playing his second full year of basketball.

Ready or not, Bowman, was faced with the task of learning a new system. Troubles at home made it even harder.

Since arriving at BC, Bowman has lost a handful of loved ones. To say the least, the transition to college was not easy. Hundreds of miles away from his hometown, Havelock, N.C., Bowman felt helpless.  

Assistant coach Scott Spinelli calls Bowman a “pleaser,” someone who always tries to do the right thing. So when it came to his family, Bowman took on the responsibility of handling what was going on back home.

But as soon as things were squared away, a huge weight was lifted off of his shoulders.

That’s when he broke out.

Bowman scored a career-high 15 points against Auburn, playing a major part in the Eagles’ first signature victory of the year. Less than a week later, he dropped 33 points and five assists in a loss to Fairfield. Bowman practically orchestrated BC’s second-half comeback by himself. He shot 9-of-12 from the field and tallied 21 points. Above all else, Bowman took no plays off—literally. He was the only Eagle to play the full second half.

After the game, Christian walked with his point guard back to the bus. Bowman turned to him and criticized his own performance—another career high. He took a jab at his defensive play, and declared that it must improve. At that moment, Christian knew what he had in Bowman.

“You know certain guys have it,” Christian said. “They’re playing for more than just this moment. They’re playing to get the most out of their ability. And that’s what he does.”

A few days later, fellow classmate and point guard Ty Graves was granted his release from the program. From then on out, it was all up to Bowman.

***

BC entered conference play, having not won an ACC game since March 7, 2015. But on New Year’s Day, the infamy came to an end. Its victim? None other than the then-reigning Midwest Regional Champion Syracuse Orange.

From tipoff, Bowman was on. With each shot, his light only got greener.

“I mean, after the second one, I feel like I can just let it go,” Bowman said.

Bowman sunk 7-of-8 shots from beyond the arc and eclipsed the 30-point mark for the second time in three games. Together, he and Robinson combined for a total of 52 points. And as a team, the Eagles made a Conte Forum-best 16 triples.

Even though he wasn’t on the team for the 2015-16 season, Bowman recognized how much the victory meant to those who were.

“Just being able to show that we can do it,” Bowman said. “Not that we’re one of the teams at the bottom, but that we’re actually one of the teams that everybody has to watch out for.”

In addition to showing that BC was a legitimate threat in conference play, Bowman had something else to prove: that all of the coaches who passed up on him were missing out. Especially when the Eagles started playing teams right in Bowman’s backyard.

Before the game against North Carolina State, talks of a Bowman-Dennis Smith, Jr. matchup resurfaced. During their high school days, everyone in the state wanted to see the two guards duke it out on the court. So when the Wolfpack traveled to Chestnut Hill, it was not surprising to see several spectators make the trek.

Bowman, an unranked football star-turned-basketball player, was up against someone he aspired to be. Smith, Jr. was someone that wasn’t overlooked—a five-star recruit and a potential NBA Lottery pick.

Based on their performances, you would have thought it was the other way around. Bowman scored 19 points, converting on more field goal and 3-point attempts than Smith, Jr.

“The one thing about Ky Bowman: the bigger the stage, the bigger he performs,” Spinelli said.

The stage was no bigger than when then-No. 9 North Carolina came to town. Bowman was originally committed to play football at UNC, prior to switching to the sport of basketball. And when the time came for Bowman to enter the basketball recruiting process, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams wasn’t interested.

Bowman’s mother, Lauretha Prichard, distinctly remembers what her husband said to Bowman before the game.

“His stepfather told him, ‘All right, they didn’t pick you. So this is a personal thing. You take it to ’em,’” Prichard said.

He did just that. Bowman poured on another 33-point performance. In large part because of his outside shooting, the Eagles were still in the game well into the second half. BC may have lost, but Bowman had made his mark.

Prior to the game, BC athletics handed out Bowman-like headdresses to Eagles fans. Unlike many giveaways, this one was a hit. Everywhere you looked, there was red hair. The excitement was indescribable.

Even Williams took note.

“For a while, it was the Ky Bowman show,” he said in the postgame press conference.

***

Despite consistently playing teams close, the Eagles failed to win another ACC game. Bowman had never experienced such a dismal stretch. Still, he remained positive, and remembered Prichard’s words.

“You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some, but as long as you go out there and take it, and do what you have to do, you’ve won,” Prichard said. “In your mindset, you’ve won.”

As time went on, Bowman, The Heights’ Breakout Male Athlete of the Year, improved in nearly every statistical category. He finished out the regular season with 12-straight double-digit performances. And he would have added to that streak if it wasn’t for an awkward fall in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Bowman also made it a priority to involve all of his teammates on the floor. If it meant that BC would have a better chance of winning, he’d willingly turn down a 30-point game.

After all was said and done, he earned All-ACC Freshman honors and ranked as the fourth-leading scorer among his classmates in the conference. Two of the three above him—Jayson Tatum and Smith, Jr.—have already declared for this year’s NBA Draft. Eventually, Bowman sees himself joining them.

So do others around him. Spinelli sees a lot of similarities between Bowman and NBA players who he recruited before coming to BC—guys like Khris Middleton, Jake Layman, and Alex Len, guys who were originally doubted.

But right now, Bowman is focused on carrying BC back to its winning ways—like it was when it played in the Big East.

With the combination of Bowman and Robinson—the fifth-highest scoring backcourt in conference play among the Power Five—Christian and Spinelli’s path back to that point should be a bit easier. Both of the underclassmen guards serve as the staple of BC’s recruiting pitch.

“It’s no longer, ‘Hey we have these guys that can be good,’” Christian said. “No, we have these guys who are really good.”

Bowman may have made a statement this season, but he still has a chip on his shoulder. According to Spinelli, Bowman thinks he should have been selected as the ACC Freshman of the Year. And don’t think he’s forgotten about all of those coaches who ghosted him.

Bowman will always have a fire in him. Maybe not always in his hair, but in his heart.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Staff

North Carolina State’s Silverman Shuts Down Eagles Offense

On Friday, Boston College softball got a hold of Peyton Silverman early and often. In the North Carolina State freshman’s four innings of work, the Eagles recorded nine hits—four of which came in the first frame. That production translated to runs. For only the fourth time in April, BC eclipsed the four-run mark.

Silverman was back out on the mound on Saturday. According to head coach Ashley Obrest, the lefty pitched the same way she had the day before. Unfortunately for BC, its offense couldn’t have been more different.

Instead of playing small ball, like it did in the first game of the series, the Eagles appeared to be hitting for power. Throughout the entire game, BC struggled to keep the ball on the ground. As a result, fly balls were abundant and runs were scarce. The Eagles’ lone run crossed the plate in the sixth inning. But for Jessica Dreswick, someone who has not only carried the pitching load, but has also been battling the flu as of late, one run was not nearly enough support. Consequently, BC dropped the game 4-1.

Judging by the first inning, it seemed as if Dreswick was on her way to another dominant performance. The junior fanned two of the first three batters she faced in a quick, one-two-three frame. In the back half of the inning, Annie Murphy ripped a double into the right-center gap. But, similar to multiple innings later in the game, BC (28-19, 12-7 Atlantic Coast) stranded a player on base.

In the ensuing inning, the Wolfpack (17-33, 10-10) got on the board. Jessica Moore kept the inning alive with a two-out single to left field. Immediately after that, Cheyenne Balzer smashed one over the head of Murphy in left. The ball hit the fence, and Moore began her sprint home. Murphy relayed the ball to Chloe Sharabba, but the shortstop’s throw home was late, as Moore slid in just in time. Molly Martin popped up to end the rally, but NC State had established the first lead of the contest.

It didn’t take long for Dreswick to settle down. For the next three innings, both she and Silverman traded scoreless frames. Scoring resumed in the top of the sixth. NC State not only added to its lead, but virtually put the game out of reach.

Leading off, Tyler Ross singled through the right side. Taylor Coroneos mishandled the ball and slipped on the throw, allowing Ross to reach second on the play. Next, Jade Caraway lined one to left field. Murphy attempted to make the diving catch, but the ball dropped inches from her glove. Luckily for BC, Lexi DiEmmanuele was there to scoop up the passed ball. But it wouldn’t matter.

By the time DiEmmanuele fired the ball to Sharabba, Ross was already feet away from scoring. Sharabba tried to get Caraway at second, but that didn’t work either. In attempt to jam Alyssa Compton into a pop up, Dreswick targeted the inside portion of the plate. The only problem was, she went a little too inside. Dreswick’s pitch hit Compton, giving her a free pass to first base. With two runners on, Moore singled down the right-field line, bringing home Caraway.

NC State was up three and had runners on the corners, but wasn’t quite done tacking on runs. To top it off, Balzer slapped a pitch the opposite way to left field, scoring Compton—the finishing touches on the Wolfpack’s four-run outburst.  

BC had two innings to make up ground. At first, it looked possible. To get things going, Murphy hit her second double of the day. Right after that, Sharabba—down in the count—shot one up the middle for a single. Now, with runners on the corners, Tatiana Cortez blasted one to left field. It sounded and looked like it could have been a home run, but the ball stopped just short of the fence, and Ross made the grab. Nevertheless, Murphy tagged up and scored.

But then, the offense halted. Jordan Chimento popped up into foul territory, ending the inning. And in the seventh, only one Eagle reached base—not on a hit, but on an error—in BC’s last-ditch effort to force extra innings.

All season, the Eagles’ pitching has been consistent. In fact, their staff is the only one in the conference with an earned run average ranked top-50 nationally. Yet their offense has been another story. Coming into Saturday’s game, BC had the fourth-worst batting average in the ACC.

Obrest believes that the lack of scoring stems from the first three innings of play. If the entire lineup fails to produce on the first go-around, confidence levels plummet.

“We need to do a better job of throwing the first punch: finding ways on base, whether it’s a bunt, walk, hit by pitch, or a hit, to give some confidence to everybody else coming up,” Obrest said.

Although BC has won all but one of its ACC series, it has only swept one opponent—Georgia Tech. And it all goes back to the bats. Whenever the Eagles have lost in conference play, they have never put up more than four runs.

Sunday will serve as an opportunity for BC to win another series. But more importantly, it’ll be a chance for the Eagles to right their offensive inconsistencies.

Featured Image by Shaan Bijwadia / Heights Staff

Midseason Firings Have No Place in Sports, Especially at the Collegiate Level

John Calipari isn’t getting fired anytime soon.

The Kentucky men’s basketball head coach has led the program to four of the last six Final Fours, its first National Championship since 1998, and 238 wins. Oh yeah, and he has churned out 20 first-round NBA draftees—three of which were selected with the No. 1 overall pick.

Not to mention that his Wildcats have won four in a row and currently sit just outside of the AP Top 10.

You wouldn’t have been able to tell on Saturday.

Following Kentucky’s comeback victory over SEC rival Georgia, Calipari sounded off in the postgame press conference about “what bothers [him] in this profession.” He began with a monologue concerning coaching criticism, supporting Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox, who has received backlash for his team’s inability to close out games this season. But then Calipari took to a larger issue: midseason firings.

You know I’m putting in my contract,” Calipari said. “You can fire me at midseason, but you’re gonna have to pay me $3 million.”

The statement stemmed from Thursday’s canning of North Carolina State head coach, Mark Gottfried. As Calipari himself pointed out, Gottfried took the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament four out his six years at the helm, including two Sweet Sixteen runs—something that hadn’t been done since 2005.

But just like most midseason firings, prior accomplishments weren’t enough to counterbalance unfulfilled expectations. After Gottfried recruited Dennis Smith Jr., the No. 1 point guard in last year’s ESPN 100, all eyes were on the Wolfpack to make a move in the ACC and finally edge closer to its neighbors, Duke and North Carolina.

That didn’t happen.

Despite getting off to an 11-2 start, and recording signature wins against then-No. 21 Virginia Tech and Duke, NC State’s success was tainted—the team dropped games to Miami, Wake Forest, and even Boston College. It was also short-lived. The Wolfpack have only won one game since they pulled off the upset in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Realistically, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Three of their top-five scorers are underclassmen. And the only thing that Smith Jr. guaranteed when he signed with the team was media attention, not wins. After all, Ben Simmons—2015’s Gatorade National Player of the Year, the 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year, and the most recent No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft—couldn’t even lead Louisiana State to the dance.   

Calipari knows firsthand that melding a group of teenagers into a cohesive unit is a tall order.

“He [Gottfried] has good players, but they’re young,” Calipari said. “They’re like my team. It’s hard to do this with young guys.”

Sure, right now it appears that Calipari is just blowing smoke. But the Hall of Fame coach is speaking from experience. Calipari’s 2012 National Championship team was littered with NBA talent. And with a blink of an eye, it was all gone.

Calipari was forced to unite freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Poythress in a matter of months. To top that off, ESPN 100’s then-No. 1 recruit, Nerlens Noel, was sidelined with an injury. The team finished 21-12 and was bounced in the first round of tournament play—the NIT Tournament, that is.

But in a year’s time, Calipari constructed a team that was contending for a national title. And he suggests that perhaps the same thing could have happened to Gottfried. Instead, Gottfried will have to finish out the season, knowing that he’ll have to find somewhere else to work next year.

It’s a reality that numerous coaches in the sports world have faced of late.

In the past five years alone, 17 NBA head coaches have been axed midseason. Last season was a notable warzone. By February, five coaches (Kevin McHale, David Blatt, Derek Fisher, Lionel Hollins, and Jeff Hornacek) were already gone. Their replacements?

A mere 93-125—a mark that looks awfully better than it should. You have to remember that 27 of those wins are credited to Tyronn Lue, Blatt’s successor. And let’s be honest. Anyone could have taken over the likes of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, and produced a winning season. Bottomline, only two of the five replacements are still coaching their teams.

And it’s not just basketball.

Over the past decade, 19 NFL head coaches have been fired before the end of the regular season. Although teams may have pulled the cord with the intention of bettering the organization, like the NBA, that has often not been the result.

Those coaches have logged a combined 43-72 record, and only seven of them have been retained for the next season—three of those seven lasted two or less years.

Midseason firings don’t accomplish anything, besides maybe booking an appearance on SportsCenter’s “Breaking News” segment. All they really do is disrupt continuity within a program or an organization.

Especially at the collegiate level, teams need time to develop. More than a third of Gottfried’s squad consists of freshmen. At 18 and 19 years old, players are still pinpointing weaknesses in their game.

Even though the expectations are different from those of NC State, the same is true for BC. Head coach Jim Christian replaced Steve Donahue in 2014, tasked with rebuilding the program from scratch. As a result, the roster slowly filled with underclassmen. Now, the Eagles have no juniors, one senior, and two graduate students. The rest of the roster is populated with youth.

But with youth often comes inexperience and, consequently, failure. Like the Wolfpack, BC dwells at the cellar of the ACC.

It’s easy to get caught up in one-and-done college success stories, players like Kevin Durant, John Wall, and DeMar DeRozan. But for every Durant there are several Justin Jacksons—players who simply need a few years to broaden their talent.

At the heart of that development lies the head coach. In turn, many coaches form a father-son relationship with their players. This is true for Calipari himself.

“I am coaching someone’s child. That’s not just a basketball player; that’s someone’s child,” Calipari said in a Dec. 2, 2015 interview with Colin Cowherd.

When a coach is fired midseason, players essentially lose a father-figure. And in NC State’s case, Director of Athletics Debbie Yow is pretty much telling the team that it will have to finish out the season, conscious of the fact that its mentor won’t be there in a matter of weeks.

All motivation to play goes right out the window. Soon the players will be under the command of someone that didn’t handpick them—a stepfather of sorts. If you’re Smith Jr., there is virtually no incentive to return.

Yes, some, and arguably, many of the coaches that are fired midseason must go. But there is no reason why they should be fired prior to the completion of the season. Most of the time, the season is already lost. The least that athletic directors, owners, and presidents can do is let the schedule play out. Who knows, maybe the team can make a late push.

College basketball is filled with surprises. Midseason firings are the ones that it doesn’t need.

Featured Image by Karl DeBlaker / AP Photo

Wilson, Wolfpack Erase Early Deficit in Win Over Eagles

Head coach Erik Johnson’s squad came out firing on all cylinders on Thursday night as Boston College women’s basketball hosted No. 15 North Carolina State in its annual “PlayforKay” game.

On a night sponsored by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which is dedicated to advancing research for all cancers affecting women, Johnson couldn’t have asked for a better first half than what he got out of his Eagles. Unfortunately, like its male counterparts, BC couldn’t hang on to a halftime lead against a ranked opponent, ultimately falling to the Wolfpack, 70-58.

But there are more than a few positives that Johnson can take away from the disappointing defeat. Starting the game on a 6-0 run, BC (9-18, 2-12 Atlantic Coast) really spread out the offense, managing to have four players score its first 10 points. The Eagles kept their foot on the gas against NC State (20-6, 10-3), managing six assists on 10 made shots to post one of their best ten minute stints of the year.

Even more impressive, BC outrebounded the Wolfpack—currently ranked fifth in the ACC in rebounding as a team—by a 13-4 margin, including four offensive boards.

An 8-0 run in the last six minutes of the first was led by Fasoula, who totaled eight points and three rebounds in the quarter. Despite a waived off buzzer-beater 3-pointer by Emilee Daley to end the period, the Eagles shot a crisp 59 percent from the field while holding the Wolfpack to a meager 17 percent, jumping out to an early 19–8 lead.

Still on top throughout the entire first half by as many as 13, the Eagles were in a prime position as they headed into the locker room with a 33-31 advantage.

But the ACC’s fourth-place Wolfpack wouldn’t be denied for long.

Shaking off its dismal 2-for-12 shooting to start the game, NC State knew the game plan for the second quarter: feed Dominique Wilson.

Led by Wilson, the Wolfpack managed a much more recognizable 50 percent from the field in the second quarter. Knocking down 7-of-8 shots from the line, Wilson scored an additional eight from the field for a game-high 16 points at the half.

But the Eagles had a few offensive weapons of their own, namely Fasoula and Taylor Ortlepp. Recording a team-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists, Fasoula couldn’t be stopped by one-on-one defense. In a breakout night, Ortlepp dropped a game-high six assists to complement her 18 points, as the Australian guard settled more comfortably into her ACC starting role.

On its second shot of the second half, NC State took its first lead of the game, but the Eagles would punch back. After a hotly-contested third quarter that saw seven lead changes and six BC fouls, the Wolfpack entered the fourth with a six-point lead, their largest of the night—one they never relinquished.

Continuing her spectacular performance, Wilson added seven second-half points to record a game high 23 points. NC state’s shooters also came alive in the second half, with Ashley Williams and Jennifer Mathurin combining to drain some timely three balls.

NC State used stifling defense to hold the Eagles to nine points in the fourth quarter and outscored them by 14 in the second half. As BC got into foul trouble late, NC State capitalized on what turned into a startling discrepancy. With guard Miah Spencer shooting 8-for-8 from the line in the second half, the Wolfpack went a spectacular 20-for-23 from the line to put the Eagles away.

In what was ultimately a strong performance against an elite NC State team—which boasts wins against the likes of Florida State, Louisville and Duke—BC continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 21 to NC State’s 10.

But tonight revealed a glimmer of hope for a young Eagles team, both individually and as a whole.

“I was really proud of my kids, of how they fought the entire game,” Johnson said. “The future is really, really bright … [and] I really believe this group is close, that they’re starting to see the team that we want to be.”

Now BC begins a much-needed bye week in Chestnut Hill to recuperate and practice before traveling to South Bend next week to take on rival Notre Dame.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

Notebook: New Formation Gives Eagles Spark on Offense

Boston College men’s soccer took to the field on Senior Night in the midst of a slide that saw the team go 1-5-2 since its 5-3 win against Albany on Sept. 20. The Eagles had especially struggled to create offense, including a stretch of four consecutive games in which they were held scoreless. But on Saturday night, the offense came alive in a 5-4 overtime victory, with BC (7-7-2, 3-3-2 Atlantic Coast) netting more goals against NC State (5-11-0, 1-7-0) than it had in its previous eight games.

“We had been struggling to score for the last couple games since Albany,” said sophomore Trevor Davock, who scored three goals to lead BC’s offense. “We finally, I think, found our right formation and it was good to get a win going into the playoffs.”

Fittingly, the seniors played a crucial role in the offensive display. BC started the scoring early when Zeiko Lewis stripped the ball from a Wolfpack player and sent it long for Davock, who powered around a defender and put it in the far corner of the net in the third minute. Lewis, one of four seniors on the team honored last night, was not credited with an assist on that play, but he was critical in setting up the chance.

He continued to be extremely active on offense all night. Shortly after setting up the opening goal, Lewis nearly created another when he came streaking down the side. He blew past the defense, and sent a pass across the goalie, but it was just too long. Lewis repeated that move a few times in the first half. He also had some good chances himself to score, finishing with two shots, including one that required a sliding save by Wolfpack goalie Alex McCauley.

Lewis finally got his name on the score sheet in the 23rd minute, with an assist on the second goal of the game. Ike Normesinu passed the ball across the box to Lewis, who used his head to bump the ball back toward Callum Johnson. Johnson then popped the ball up over the head of McCauley, and Davock tapped it into the net.

“It’s just the flow of the game,” Lewis said. “Trevor pulled out amazing plays, Isaac made amazing plays, Callum scores some good goals, it’s just how the game flows.”

Normesinu, who started the play, was another senior who helped drive the offense on Senior Night. The winger was constantly setting up plays, moving the ball along the outside of the box. He also earned an assist after feeding it to Johnson, who booted the ball into the net from deep. But it was Lewis who was the most prominent senior leading the charge, which was especially important with leading scorer Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel sitting for much of the game.

But it wasn’t all about the seniors on Saturday. Perhaps the most important player on offense last night was Davock, a sophomore. Having not scored a goal all season after scoring six last year as a freshman, Davock finally found his touch on Saturday, scoring three of BC’s four goals.

His third, BC’s only goal in the second half, was a true individual effort, as he took the ball in the box and maneuvered his way around the defense and past a fallen McCauley to put it in the net and earn the hat trick. The goal came at a critical point in the game, barely a minute after NC State scored to tie the game after BC had taken a 3-1 lead in the first half.

“[Davock] was fantastic tonight,” head coach Ed Kelly said. “The last goal that he scored was a thing of beauty.”

Johnson, a freshman, was also an important player for the offense, finishing with three shots, a goal, and an assist. It really was a team effort, as the first half’s offensive outburst was ultimately crucial in giving BC room for error when the defense struggled in the second half. Although BC finished with only eight shots, six of those were on goal, which shows that the team was creating high-quality chances. In that regard, BC was successful, finishing with its highest offensive output all season (tied with the Albany game).

In the end, though, it was not a goal scored by BC that won the game. In a game defined by an offensive emergence for the Eagles, the winning goal was, ironically, an own goal by NC State.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

BC Ekes Out Overtime Win Thanks to Own Goal

The Eagles got the hell out of dodge.

Boston College men’s soccer defeated North Carolina State in a 5-4 overtime thriller to end the regular season. But the postgame feeling was one of immense relief rather than celebration.

After roaring out to a 3-1 halftime lead, the Wolfpack (5-11-0, 1-7-0 Atlantic Coast) battled back to tie the game at 4-4 and force overtime, but BC (7-7-2, 3-3-2) escaped with the win due to an NC State own-goal after a truly bizarre 95 minutes.

Five minutes into overtime, BC sent a harmless long ball over the top. Wolfpack defender Jake Dykes went to head the ball back to his goalie but completely whiffed. Turned around and facing pressure, Dykes looked to pass the ball back to his goalie Alex McCauley on the ground, but McCauley had already come out and wasn’t expecting the back pass. As the ball rolled past McCauley and dribbled across the goal-line, many BC players just fell to the ground in disbelief like a tennis star after a grueling 5-set championship victory.

All BC could do was get out of there quickly without questioning what had really just unfolded, while perhaps thanking a higher power.

“Someone is looking after me, that’s all I can tell you,” head coach Ed Kelly said. There weren’t many other words to accurately describe the game, one can only look at the series of events to understand how erratic the game was.

The game started off with a bang when Trevor Davock scored his first goal of the year in the third minute. After chasing down a deflected through ball from Zeiko Lewis, Davock took on a defender into the right side of the box. Beating him to his outside, Davock calmly slotted  past the keeper into the far corner with a low, hard shot.

The bizarre nature of the game first showed itself in NC State’s equalizer. In the 12th minute, a high boot and dangerous play call in the box from BC led to an indirect free-kick from 15 yards out. BC goalie Cedric Saladin lined up in from the wall, in an attempt to run out and save the shot from close range when the first player touched it. But forward Julius Duchscherer powered it through everyone for the goal.

The action continued in the 23rd minute when Davock scored his second after a scramble in the box, just beating out the keeper with an outstretched foot to tap it into the net.

Four minutes later, Callum Johnson shocked every on-looker with a blast from 25 yards out that went off of the post and in. The helpless goalie, frozen in place, was an accurate depiction of how this game would end.

Like on Tuesday against UMass Lowell, BC couldn’t keep a two-goal halftime lead for long. Sloppy defending from BC led to a wide-open Tanner Roberts turning and slotting far-post from close range in the 59th minute.

Ten minutes later, NC State tied it up off of a corner kick, which had troubled BC all game long. With the Wolfpack stacking the 6-yard box around Saladin, Duchscherer whipped in a dangerous ball that was flicked into the far post. Duchscherer put in a man-of-the-match performance for the Wolfpack, highlighted by his corner kicks—every one of which was hit with pinpoint accuracy into the 6-yard box.

A minute and six seconds later, BC answered through Davock, who completed his hat trick with a sublime goal. Receiving the ball at the top of the box, the sophomore cut through two defenders to take him one-on-one with keeper McCauley. Davock danced around McCauley with a deft touch to his left before tapping it into the net. For Kelly, Davock is a weapon he has been waiting for all season.

“The last goal he scored was a thing of beauty, just phenomenal,” Kelly said. “He’s back.”

The soccer gods were not done just yet, though. In the 85th minute, NC State easily moved the ball down the sideline and cut a ball back to an open Lukas Zarges, who only had to pass the ball gently into the far corner from close range.

Amid the chaos that unfolded on the pitch, a few talking points stick out.

Most notably, it was senior night and Lewis’s last regular season game on the Newton field. It was emotional night for Lewis and fellow four-year seniors, Ike Normesinu and Ado Kawuba, but Lewis was up to his usual tricks. In the process of leading the attack with speed and skill, he tied the BC record for career assists with 26.

The win ensured the seniors at least one more home game in their careers, as BC will host Virginia Tech next Wednesday in the first round of the ACC tournament in the 8 vs. 9 seed matchup. Going in, BC knew a win would secure home field advantage and that any other result would send them on the road. While it’s nice for the seniors to get another home game, it’s crucial for the whole team to not have to travel, as BC will most likely need a good run in the tournament to secure an at-large berth into the NCAA’s.

The renaissance of Davock and an offense that has been fallow for the last stretch of the season is a good sign going forward. A win on Senior Night sparked BC’s amazing run last year, and with a new formation with Davock at central striker and Lewis and Normesinu playing higher up the field, the run for the Eagles starts now.

Regardless of whether the game ends 1-0 or 5-4 with an overtime own-goal against NC State, this year’s Eagles just need to continue to survive and advance.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

The Curse Is Over: Football Snaps 12-Game ACC Losing Streak

RALEIGH, N.C. — Patrick Towles took a step back and handed the ball to running back Davon Jones.

Jones appeared to eye a run to the right. Instead, he lofted a pass into the end zone.

Tommy Sweeney, unbothered by North Carolina State University defenders, gathered the ball in for an easy touchdown. Seconds later, Towles tossed a pass across the field to Sweeney again to successfully complete the two-point conversion.

Steve Addazio screamed on the BC sideline while his team erupted. He pounded his chest and put his hands in the air, ripping off his headset and running around everywhere looking. A trick play when you least expect it? You bet.

“We had worked on it all week long,” Addazio said. He had confidence in Jones to find Sweeney in the end zone. Jones knew that if the pass wasn’t there, he shouldn’t force it.

Luckily for BC, the pass was there. It was gift-wrapped and handed to the Eagles: a very early Christmas present from their opponents down south.

Boston College football never makes it easy, as everyone knows by now. Bolstered by a huge kickoff return, the Wolfpack quickly drove down the field, setting up a first-and-10 at the 2 yard line.

Kamrin Moore had different plans. He intercepted quarterback Ryan Finley in the back corner of the end zone.

What was going through Moore’s mind in the seconds immediately after the interception?

“Game over.”

At long last, the pain is over. The curse has ended. The Eagles are free.

With sunny skies, a comfortable breeze, and a temperature of 68 degrees, these were much nicer conditions than you can find in Boston this time of year. And the Eagles played much better than the team fans have seen in Chestnut Hill for the past couple of weeks and even years. The proof is in the pudding. On this beautiful, sunny day in Raleigh, BC broke the 12-game ACC curse that has plagued it since the start of the last season. On this beautiful, sunny day in Raleigh, BC defeated North Carolina State—an ACC team—by a score of 21-14. It is the first ACC win for the Eagles since Nov. 29, 2014, a 28-7 victory over Syracuse.

The first quarter was sloppy for both teams. BC (4-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) received the opening kickoff, but failed to do anything with its first drive. After a 27-yard rush along the right side for Myles Willis, the offense stalled when Patrick Towles had a pass deflected and then Charlie Callinan couldn’t hold on to another pass.

On the first possession for NC State (4-4, 1-3), the BC defense made a sloppy mistake and helped the Wolfpack move down the field. Quarterback Ryan Finley found Bra’Lon Cherry for 17 yards and a first down, and the defense gifted the Pack with another 15 yards because of a facemask. After the penalty, the defense toughened up and stopped the Pack short of the endzone, resulting in another punt.

Throughout the first quarter, neither team could build up enough momentum to see results in the endzone. Towles tossed the ball to Davon Jones, who spun around a defender and managed to stay on his feet despite being off-balance. He eluded a couple more defenders before being brought down—and fumbling in the process. NC State recovered the ball, ruining the impressive play and stopping BC short.

At the end of the quarter, BC put an impressive drive together. Towles connected with Sweeney for 21 yards, then Jeff Smith for seven and another first down. A trick play saw Smith, the former quarterback, attempt a pass downfield. The pass was incomplete, but a questionable roughing the passer call gifted BC with 15 yards and a fresh set of downs anyway.

The drive brought the Eagles all the way to the NC State 7-yard line, but there the offense stalled once again. For the very first play of the second quarter, Towles overthrew Smith in the endzone and the offense was whistled for both holding and ineligible receiver downfield. Out came Mike Knoll to attempt a field goal. His attempt was good, and it gave BC a 3-0 lead mere seconds into the second quarter.

The lead would not last long for the Eagles. On third down, deep in his own territory, Finley found Cherry cutting across the field towards the right sideline. After he caught the ball, Cherry put on wheels to outrun the BC defense to the end zone. The play was good for 79 yards and gave NC State a 7-3 lead.

Smith, not to be outdone by Cherry, put on his own display of speed a few minutes later. He received the handoff and took off downfield, taking it 60 yards to the house and recapturing the lead for the Eagles. His touchdown run completely silenced the once-rowdy NC State fans, who were stunned at the speed and agility of Smith, one of BC’s biggest offensive threats.

BC had one more chance to put points on the board in the half when Knoll attempted another field goal. The Wolfpack defense came up big, though, with a blocked field goal, and so the Eagles only carried a 10-7 lead into halftime. It was the first time since Nov. 29, 2014 against Syracuse, that BC held a halftime lead against a conference opponent. Nov. 29, 2014, was also the last time BC won against a conference opponent.

BC opened the second half with a huge play. Finley, sensing pressure from his left, tried to move to his right, looking downfield for an open receiver. But Harold Landry was ready and waiting for him. Landry took him down, pinning Finley against the turf. The ball popped out and Zach Allen fell onto it, giving BC possession deep in NC State territory.

The turnover, however, didn’t turn into a touchdown for the Eagles. BC just couldn’t find the endzone despite having excellent field position, resulting in yet another field goal for Knoll. Early in the third quarter, BC held a 13-7 lead—but it could have been 17-7, or even 20-7 if NC State hadn’t blocked the field goal.

With such a tight game going on, tensions were high. Both quarterbacks made questionable decisions that turned into huge mistakes. Finley took a shot downfield, but his receiver bobbled the ball. Before it hit the turf, Ty Schwab secured the ball, giving BC a crucial interception and halting a promising NC State drive.

What did the Eagles do with the ball next? Well, under pressure, Towles attempted to find Michael Walker, but it was an ill-advised throw and resulted in a Wolfpack interception. NC State now held the ball at the BC 23-yard line, giving it excellent field position.

The Wolfpack took advantage of the field position. Finley connected with Harmon for a touchdown initially dismissed and then, upon review, accepted. NC State was up 14-13 and held all of the momentum. It looked like the Wolfpack would escape a close game with the win.

Nobody told that to BC. The Eagles drove down the field, culminating in the touchdown pass from Jones to Sweeney and then the conversion from Towles to Sweeney. The gutsy move gave BC a 21-14 lead with just a few minutes remaining.

It wouldn’t be BC football without the Eagles making it unnecessarily stressful for themselves, however. The Wolfpack marched down the field and it looked like it might score a game-tying touchdown. Then Moore had his game-preserving touchdown in the back of the end zone.

Time expired. BC still held the lead.

“To win this game, it took something from everyone,” Addazio said. “We have a collection of guys who are battling every day.”

Fans decked out in red left Carter-Finley Stadium with somber faces. They were in utter disbelief. “I can’t believe they got that last touchdown,” one said sadly.

Believe it.

The curse is broken. The Eagles are free.

Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor

Eagles Face Tough Challenge in Wolfpack Defense

Approaching the podium on Monday afternoon, Boston College football (3-4, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) head coach Steve Addazio tried to remain upbeat about his team’s progress in the face of mounting pressure.

“We’ve got a great attitude,” Addazio said. “We’re growing, we’re developing, and you know, I’d say … I like the development of our team.”

But in the wake of BC’s 28-20 loss last Saturday to Syracuse (4-3, 1-2), its 12th-straight conference loss, it’s becoming harder to distinguish honesty from coach-speak. With its passing game declining in efficiency and its defense looking less like Don Brown’s dominant unit by the week, there appear to be few areas of definable progress. And if that progress occurs behind the scenes, yet to announce its presence in a game setting, it seems quite unlikely that it will show during this Saturday’s game.

After a disappointing end to their month-long homestead, the Eagles head to Raleigh, N.C., as 15-point underdogs for a matchup against North Carolina State (4-3, 1-2), a team that has risen above expectations this season and boasts a perfect 4-0 record at home, with wins against Wake Forest and Notre Dame.

Head coach Dave Doeren’s Wolfpack has handled the departure of quarterback and team leader Jacoby Brissett much better than expected. Under the direction of redshirt sophomore Ryan Finley, the passing game has actually eclipsed last year’s unit, averaging 37 more yards per game. Finley has thrown for 1,508 yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions in his first seven games of the season.

But these numbers may be a bit misleading. Over the last two weeks, in losses against ACC powerhouses Clemson and Louisville, Finley has thrown all four of his interceptions and has completed just 50.7 percent of his passes, compared to 69.5 percent over his first five games.

Yet Finley offers Doeren a strong-armed, traditional pocket passer, albeit with limited mobility. As a result, unlike the dual-threat Brissett, he can’t bolster the rushing attack. The change in quarterbacking styles has led the Wolfpack to alter its offense a bit this season. Doeren mixes spread passing concepts with pro-style running plays. The team has had to remove nearly all of its read option and triple option concepts, limiting the number of players who can get involved in the ground game. Running plays getting speedy receivers or backup running backs to the edge have dropped in number, a large reason why the Wolfpack has rushed for nearly 40 fewer yards per game than last year’s unit, which racked up over 200 yards per game.

Senior running back Matthew Dayes has played the role of a true feature back this season. He has accounted for a whopping 45.6 percent of the team’s rushing attempts, up from 24.8 percent last season. With 682 rushing yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, Dayes gives the offense a dependable option on early downs and in the red zone, combining decent speed with a powerful 5-foot-9, 203-pound frame.

Unfortunately for Dayes, he has been getting inconsistent help from his offensive line. On standard-down rushing plays, defined as plays that are first downs, second-and-7 or fewer, third-and-4 or fewer or fourth-and-4 or fewer, the Wolfpack averages just 2.72 yards per carry, 103rd nationally. In addition, per Football Outsiders, NC State ranks 107th in efficiency on third- or fourth-down short-yardage rushes. These early-down and short-yardage struggles have contributed to the Wolfpack’s ranking of 122nd in the percentage of drives that earn at least one first down.

Thanks to an explosive set of receivers, however, the team ranks 29th in percentage of drives that gain at least one first down and score a touchdown, per Football Outsiders. Sophomore receiver Stephen Louis has tallied 407 receiving yards on just 19 receptions, averaging 21.4 yards per catch. Jaylen Samuels, a fullback-tight end hybrid, has continued steady involvement in the aerial attack despite a decreased role in the ground game, leading the team with 33 receptions and running routes from a variety of positions in the offense. Continuing the theme of versatility, backup running back Nyheim Hines also plays a huge role in the passing game. The Wolfpack likes to take advantage of Hines’s blazing speed on routes in which he is matched up against slow-footed linebackers.

On Saturday afternoon, look for NC State to try to exploit BC’s linebackers in coverage, especially with Connor Strachan, the Eagles’ best coverage linebacker, either sidelined or limited. The defense must scheme ways to keep Samuels and Hines, among others, from breaking open in the middle of the field. It also must avoid one-on-one coverage breakdowns that would allow Louis open space deep down the field. Eliminating these aspects of the passing game should help the Eagles stay close in this game, as they figure to have success containing the pro-style run game of Dayes, as it lacks the tempo and spread concepts that have troubled them in recent weeks.

On the defensive side of the football, though it surrendered 54 points in the loss to Louisville, NC State possesses the 19th-best defense in the country per Football Outsiders S&P rankings. The front seven is disruptive and adept at getting deep into the opposing backfield, led by defensive end Bradley Chubb, brother of Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who has 11 tackles for loss and six sacks. Jared Fernandez and Airius Moore serve as aggressive, run-stopping linebackers. With these players, the Wolfpack ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ havoc rate, which measures a defense’s ability to generate tackles for loss and pass breakups.

This front seven has allowed the Wolfpack to stuff most rushing attempts, allowing just 2.31 yards per carry on run plays on standard downs, 10th in the country. NC State also limits explosive plays very well, ranking 11th in Football Outsiders’ ISOPPP allowed metric, which tracks a defense’s ability to limit chunk plays. The team forces turnovers at the 28th-best rate in the nation, forcing eight fumbles already.

With an offense that heavily features the run, struggles to score on drives that don’t contain explosive plays and fails to secure the ball well, this trio of numbers does not bode well for the Eagles on Saturday. The offensive line must improve upon its ability to create running lanes for Davon Jones and Jonathan Hilliman, allowing the team to have success on early downs. With the Wolfpack’s pass rush and ability to limit downfield pass plays, it will be crucial for BC to keep third downs to manageable lengths of 5 yards or less, especially given the fact that Darius Wade may be the starting quarterback because of Patrick Towles’s pulled hamstring. An accurate short passing game that involves Tommy Sweeney and the running backs should help the beleaguered offense extend drives.

Since BC hypothetically matches well with NC State’s style of play, which uses less of the up-tempo emphasis shared by Clemson and Syracuse, the Eagles may find themselves in a close contest on Saturday afternoon. Hanging tough in a back-and-forth game, avoiding any mental lapses, would offer a sure sign of progress for this team.

With any luck, it’ll get the chance to prove that Addazio wasn’t just engaging in coach-speak during his press conference.

Featured Image by Ethan Hyman / The News and Observer via AP

Wade Excited About Opportunity to Start Again at NC State

Who is Darius Wade?

First, he was the southpaw savior in charge of leading Boston College football during a rebuilding year last season. A month later, he was merely a spectator, forced to watch his struggling team from the sidelines after a broken ankle against Florida State kept him out for the season. Then, Wade was relegated to backup quarterback duties following Patrick Towles’s transfer during the offseason.

On Saturday, he is likely to step in as the starter when the Eagles (3-4, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) fly to Raleigh, N.C., to take on a North Carolina State (4-3, 1-2) squad fresh off back-to-back matchups with Clemson and Louisville. Towles, who sat out practice on Tuesday but is officially listed as day-to-day, is doubtful to play with a pulled hamstring suffered in last weekend’s loss to Syracuse.

“I’ve been through both phases, being the backup and being the starter,” said Wade, who received a redshirt status because of his season-ending injury last year. “It’s tough because you have to be ready at any moment. So it’s hard not getting all the first-team reps but still having to be ready to be with the first team at any given moment. It’s a mental game, trying to exude some leadership while you’re not necessarily ‘the guy.’”

Head coach Steve Addazio is also playing a mental game by not naming his starter to throw off the Wolfpack’s preparation. There’s a chance that a hobbled Towles could still take the field on Saturday, but he would probably be reduced to a pocket passer full-time, rather than the scrambling role he has undertaken thus far. Unless the Kentucky transfer can make an impact with his legs, as well, then Wade becomes the clear No. 1 option against NC State and its 19th-ranked defensive unit.

But if BC is to pick up its first conference win in about 700 days, Wade must be the dual-threat quarterback of the future that Addazio thought he was getting when the 2013 Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year committed to play at BC three years ago.

Of course, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much he has progressed in his time here under Addazio. Wade has seen limited playing time in nine total games as an Eagle, three in each year he has been on the team. This season, Wade’s action has typically come at the tail end of blowouts, save for the late-game fill-in for Towles in the most recent 28-20 loss to the Orange.

Wade completed three passes for 19 yards in the fourth quarter as BC tried to piece together a game-tying drive in the waning minutes. Although he looked solid—albeit timid—both in and out of the pocket, Wade also took a huge sack that essentially erased any hopes of a touchdown. Against Clemson, he tossed a pick-six on his lone pass of the night. As unfair as it is to expect Wade to transition back into the starting role without a little rust, that’s exactly what the expectations will be because of his history.

“Every week, I go into it like I have an opportunity to play,” Wade said. “I always have to be ready because football is just like that—you never know what can happen at any moment. This week, it’s just a little more apparent that this could be my week. So I just gotta make sure I step up and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Though Wade does not have a proven rapport with wide receivers Jeff Smith and Charlie Callinan, he certainly does with tight end Tommy Sweeney. In February’s spring scrimmage, Wade connected with Sweeney for 57 yards on four catches. Look for Sweeney to be a frequent target at Carter-Finley Stadium, especially against a Wolfpack defense which has stunted rushing attacks all year.

To combat NC State’s lethal front-seven, the Eagles might also rely on end-arounds with Smith and play-action passes that allow Wade to show off his athleticism rolling out of the pocket. But in order for play-action schemes to be effective, Addazio will first need to establish a respectable rushing attack. Despite the recent emergence of Davon Jones, who has added explosiveness to the backfield, BC’s running game ranks among the worst in the Power Five.

Another storyline to watch for is how much Addazio utilizes Wade in the ground game. As enticing as a Wade-Jones read-option package might appear, it is important to remember who is behind Wade if he goes down again with an injury—which increases in likelihood with every tackle absorbed. Addazio told reporters on Monday that, given Towles’s injury, freshman Anthony Brown is also preparing for possible game time on Saturday. Yet that decision could affect his redshirt eligibility, which should be absolutely paramount for this program at the moment.

Ever since BC learned who he was last September, Wade has dealt with uncertainty. Even now, as he studies NC State’s defensive patterns in preparation for this weekend’s ACC showdown, there’s a chance he doesn’t get the start. But if he does, he has an incredible opportunity to surprise people and win a conference bout that the program so desperately needs—and maybe the starting job for good, too.

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff

 

Volleyball Suffers 12th Consecutive Loss

Boston College volleyball traveled down to North Carolina for matches against University of North Carolina (17-2, 9-0 Atlantic Coast) and North Carolina State (13-9, 6-4). BC (5-15, 0-10) continued its search for its first ACC win and to end its extended winning streak, but again fell short of both goals. It was another disappointing weekend for the Eagles, who will return to Chestnut Hill on a 12-game losing streak. BC went up against tough opponents, but still struggled to cut back on the errors that have been its downfall in so many games this season.

On Sunday, the Eagles took a short trip from Chapel Hill to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State. NC State’s defense was on display early, blocking several potential BC kills early, but the Wolfpack also put several balls away off kills to go up 10-3. The Eagles killed two consecutive hits, but then gave NC State the ball right back after a service error. BC called a timeout down 14-5, but still could not find a way to stop the offensive attack of the Wolfpack, or find a way around the unified defensive front that NC State showcased. The Wolfpack won the first set 25-14.

The second set began much closer, with both teams trading points. BC had a slight advantage at 7-5, but the Wolfpack hung around and kept up with the Eagles before tying the set at 10-10. NC State went on a 5-2 run to jump out to a three-point lead. BC kept it interesting, scoring on a block that the Wolfpack could not return, and then a kill before serving a ball out of bounds to give NC State a two point lead and the ball. The Wolfpack kept a narrow lead through the rest of the set before three consecutive errors out of bounds by BC gave NC State a 25-21 set win.

During the third set, kills by Jill Strockis, Sol Calvete, and Sophia West gave BC a 9-5 lead, its largest lead of the match. The Eagles stretched out their lead to 15-9. The Wolfpack got a point back, but a great kick save by Anna Skold on a ball that seemed out of reach kept the point alive, and lead to an eventual NC State error. The BC lead ballooned out to 20-11, and while NC State came back toward the end of the set, the Eagles won the third set comfortably 25-19.

The fourth set began almost identically to the third set, with the Eagles, led by Strockis, West, and Calvete, jumping out to a 9-5 lead. NC State refused to fall too far behind, and came storming back to make it a one-point game after its 11th block of the game. The rest of the set was back and forth, as both teams fought to keep their slim leads. NC State went up 22-20 after a BC error. The teams were tied at 23 when a disputed blocking error gave the Wolfpack a match point that the Eagles quickly saved. NC State gained another match point after a kill, and a BC error gave the Wolfpack the match.

On Friday, the Eagles traveled to North Carolina to face off against the Tar Heels, a team that was voted the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the ACC. UNC currently is in first place, while BC has not found its footing in the conference. Despite this, the Eagles played the Tar Heels tough during the first set. UNC raced out to a 12-1 lead, winning the first eight points of the match. This might have discouraged another team, but the Eagles showed impressive grit and heart to battle back. First, the Eagles used a 5-0 run to cut the Tar Heels lead in half, and then a 13-6 run to take the lead at 19-18 after consecutive kills from Strockis and Calvete. UNC would not be contained for too long, though, and came back strong to win the last seven points of the set and take it 25-19.

The Tar Heels came out and won the first five points of the second set on the way to an early 9-2 lead. Another big run from UNC led to a 17-4, and the Tar Heels then cruised to a 25-10 set win. While the Eagles only made five errors during the set, UNC made zero errors, and had 17 kills to BC’s 7. This lead to a big disparity in hitting percentage, with the Tar Heels sitting at .607 and the Eagles at .080.

The last time the Eagles faced the Tar Heels, BC came back from a two-set deficit and forced UNC to a decisive fifth set. The Eagles were hoping for a repeat of this as the third set began with both teams putting away points on kills. UNC began an 8-2 run off of a kill, and two consecutive errors from BC. The Eagles called a timeout at 17-7 to try and calm the momentum of the Tar Heels, and while they were able to win a few points back, UNC ultimately won the third set 25-14 to cap off a relatively easy win. This was the 11th straight loss for BC, and its ninth ACC loss, and the Eagles will need to turn it around quickly if they hope to stay competitive in the ACC.

Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff