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Women’s Soccer Releases 2017 Schedule

On Wednesday, Boston College women’s soccer released its schedule for the 2017 season. Just like last year, BC will face off against Connecticut in an exhibition game to kickoff the season on Aug. 6. About two weeks later, the Eagles will take part in a tournament hosted by James Madison University. BC will play JMU on Aug. 18, and William and Mary on Aug. 20.

From that point forward, the regular season will consist of seven more non-conference matches and a string of 10 ACC contests.

As soon as BC returns from Virginia, it will host back-to-back home games against Vanderbilt and Colgate on Aug. 25 and 27, respectively. After that, the team will make the trip to New York to play Stony Brook to wrap up the month.

September will start with a three-game series against neighboring Boston schools—Northeastern (Sept. 3), Harvard (Sept. 7) and Boston University (Sept. 10). Last year, the Eagles defeated all three of their Beanpot foes.

The club will conclude non-conference play in Newton against St. John’s on Sept. 14.

On Sept. 17, BC will take on Louisville at home in its first ACC game of the season. The Eagles will then fly south to face North Carolina State on Sept. 21, before returning to Newton on Sept. 24 for a game against Wake Forest.

Over the span of a week and a half, BC will play three consecutive road games. First, the team will play Virginia Tech on Sept. 29. And then it will travel to Florida to square off against both Florida State (Oct. 5) and Miami (Oct. 8). The Eagles will then return to campus for a three-game home stand, albeit against three tough opponents: North Carolina (Oct. 14), Duke (Oct. 19), and Virginia (Oct. 22) Each of these programs were national seeds in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Finally, the regular season will come to a close at Pittsburgh—a team that the Eagles have defeated four years in a row—on Oct. 26.

In total, BC will play 19 games—10 of which will be on home turf, and six of which are against teams that made last year’s NCAA Tournament.

BC only won three conference games in 2016. And it hasn’t won more than five since 2013.

Aside from its leading scorers—then-seniors McKenzie Meehan and Hayley Dowd—last year’s team was littered with youth. Now, with a year under its belt, the Eagles’ loaded sophomore class will get a second go around at the ACC and a chance to rebrand the program.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

North Carolina Ends BC’s Season With 10-Run Shutout

It was inevitable. Win or lose, Boston College baseball’s season was going to come to an end following its ACC Tournament pool play game against North Carolina on Thursday. BC—the lowest seed in Pool B—had already lost to North Carolina State on Tuesday, effectively eliminating it from championship contention.

Essentially, the Eagles were playing for pride—something that was tainted back in April when the Tar Heels poured on a program-best 48 runs over the span of three games at Shea Field. UNC’s unprecedented scoring spree capped off the Eagles’ dismal 1-14 start in conference play.

Fortunately for BC, its series against the Tar Heels served as the turning point of its season. The Eagles won 10 of their last 15 ACC games, en route to securing a spot in the ACC Tournament. Throughout the latter portion of the regular season, BC looked like a different team—one reminiscent of last year’s group that made a trip to the NCAA Super Regional. But on Thursday, it reverted back to the one we saw in April.

Thanks to Tyler Baum and four different relievers, UNC shut down the Eagles offense. The Tar Heels only allowed two hits on the day—both of which came in the first frame. On the other hand, the UNC bats could not have had a better day at the plate. Inning after inning, the Tar Heels added to their hit total and, more importantly, their lead. Because of the tournament’s 10-run rule, the game was halted after the seventh inning, with UNC up 10-0.

For the second time this season, Dan Metzdorf took the hill against No. 2 UNC (44-11). Just like his first outing against the Tar Heels, the lefty was rattled right from the get-go. Leading off, Brian Miller took an inside pitch and blooped a single to center field. The ensuing batter, Logan Warmoth, followed that up with a single of his own—the first of his four hits on the day.

With two men on, Ashton McGee blasted one to right field. The ball hit off the wall and took an odd bounce, allowing Miller and Warmoth to score, as well as McGee to reach third. Then, Kyle Datres hit a groundball to shortstop. Johnny Adams had to settle for the force out at first, as McGee easily scored from third. Eventually, Metzdorf closed out the inning, but the damage was already done. In just one inning, he had given up three runs off of 31 pitches.

BC (25-27) retaliated with its only offense of the game in the bottom of the first. Jake Palomaki singled to center to start things off for the Eagles. One batter later—as Palomaki was on his way to swiping second—Michael Strem drove a ball through the right side. Palomaki advanced to third on the play. But he would never get any farther. Baum fanned Gian Martellini on three pitches and then forced Jake Alu into a groundout, ending the inning and stranding two Eagles on base.

From that point forward, UNC dominated the box score. The Tar Heels accounted for the remaining hits, runs, and even errors in the contest.

Metzdorf ran into more trouble in the third inning—so much so that Gambino had to make a call to the bullpen. Right off the bat, he walked Datres. Not too long after that, Zack Gahagan doubled to left field, bringing home the sophomore. To make matters worse, Tyler Lynn singled through the right side, scoring Gahagan.

Trailing by five runs in the third, Gambino turned to Brian Rapp—one of the more reliable Eagles pitchers as of late. In most cases, teams would shift to panic mode in this situation. But BC had nothing to lose and no one to rest. Rapp immediately escaped the jam, forcing Cody Roberts to ground out into a double play.

The Tar Heels’ scoring peaked in the fourth frame. Back to the top of the order, Miller dropped a bunt toward the third base line. Rapp scurried to fetch the ball, but by the time he got to it, Miller was already well on his way to first. Warmoth and McGee proceeded to hit back-to-back singles, loading the bases for Datres. And the bases would stay loaded for a few more batters.

Datres singled through the left side, scoring Miller and increasing the UNC lead to six. Rapp then walked Brandon Riley on five pitches, all but handing the Tar Heels another run. Next, Gahagan hit a fly ball to center field, enabling McGee to tag up and score. Additionally, it gave  Datres enough time to advance to third. Rapp continued to struggle to command the ball. He misfired once again, but this time the ball got past Martellini, and Datres sped home.

Only three and a half innings in, UNC led 9-0. All the more of a reason why head coach Mike Fox decided to pull Baum. Unlike BC, the Tar Heels’ season’s end wasn’t anywhere in sight. No matter how far they go in the ACC Tournament, they are all but a lock for the NCAA Tournament. For Fox, preserving arms for postseason play becomes a priority, especially when his team is up by nine runs.

So, for the next four frames, UNC turned to four different relievers—Taylor Sugg, Austin Bergner, Bo Weiss, and Rodney Hutchison, Jr. And each one of them executed to perfection. The four combined for five strikeouts and did not give up a walk, hit, or a run.

The Tar Heels tacked on their 10th and final run in the fifth inning. There’s no telling how many more they would have added if the 10-run rule didn’t go into effect following the Eagles’ scoreless seventh inning.

It was an abrupt ending to BC’s season, but not nearly as abrupt as it would have been if Gambino and Co. never even made it to the ACC Tournament. The Eagles’ late push will keep fans wondering about what could have been if their team had played to that standard all season long. Luckily for BC, it will return the bulk of its lineup and rotation next season. Come February, this group will have a chance to build upon its largely successful tail end of the 2017 campaign.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

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

Despite Late-Game Scoring Spree, Lacrosse Drops ACC Semifinal to UNC

Just like Boston College lacrosse’s first meeting with North Carolina back on March 25, it didn’t take long for the Eagles to get on the board in Friday’s semifinal game of the ACC Tournament. In fact, in both contests, BC scored less than two minutes into the first half, taking an early lead. But unlike the first time around, head coach Acacia Walker’s group didn’t enter intermission on top. And it was far from doing so.

Shortly after Kenzie Kent scored the game’s opening goal, the Tar Heels’ offense exploded. In a span of about seven and a half minutes, UNC rattled off seven goals—four of which were netted by team-leading scorer Molly Hendrick. From that point on, it was an uphill battle for BC. Despite outscoring the Tar Heels by two goals in the second half, the Eagles had too much ground to make up, in order to complete the comeback. As a result, UNC booked its third-consecutive trip to the ACC championship with a 17-14 victory.

Two minutes in and Kent picked up right where she left off on Thursday. After Sammy Jo Tracy coughed up the ball, No. 12 BC (13-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) successfully cleared it out of its own territory. Soon after, Kent scored an unassisted goal—her 10th of the week. But it would only take No. 3 UNC (15-2, 6-1) 38 seconds to equalize.

Ela Hazar located Hendrick, who proceeded to send a shot right past BC goaltender Zoe Ochoa. Just like that, the game was tied. For the next few minutes, scoring stalled. One on hand, the Eagles were called for multiple fouls, and on the other, UNC was just missing shots. Every Tar Heels’ shot attempt during the three-minute stretch was either wide, blocked, or saved.

It took a BC yellow card for UNC to get back on track. Hannah Hyatt was penalized at about the four-minute mark, giving the Tar Heels a one-player advantage. Eventually, Marie McCool cashed in for her team’s second goal of the game. Not too long after, Hendrick added to her scoring total and the UNC lead with another goal.

Down two, the game was still in the Eagles’ reach. That was, until the Tar Heels tacked on four more goals in a mere minute and 20 seconds. Hendrick scored half of them, already giving her a hat trick on the day. Hazar and Carly Reed recorded the other two.

For the remainder of the first period, BC struggled to get back in the game. Every time the Eagles strung together a scoring possession, UNC responded.

Following a ground ball pickup and clear by Christina Walsh, Dempsey Arsenault scored BC’s second goal of the game. Five minutes later, Sam Apuzzo was fouled while scooping up a ground ball. Apuzzo—the nation’s 13th-leading scorer—was awarded a free-position shot. She took the ball to the net and scored.

But all momentum was halted when the Tar Heels fired back with three goals of their own. Once again, it was Hazar and Reed headlining the scoring plays. But Caroline Wakefield also got in on the field day. The two sides continued to trade goals until there was only about two minutes left in the half. By this point, UNC was up 12-5.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they finished the period strong. Kaileen Hart corralled Apuzzo’s missed free-position shot and whipped one past UNC goalie Caylee Waters. And with a bit more than half a minute left in the half, Arsenault scored her second goal of the game.

BC carried over its little run into the second half of play. Close to three minutes into the half, Kent was fouled twice. Both times, she received a free-position shot. On the second attempt, she hit twine, reducing the deficit to four. But before long, it was back to seven. Walsh fouled McCool in Eagles territory, and the junior made her pay, scoring on the free-position shot. Next, Hazar fed Tracy for her lone goal of the contest. To make matters worse, Gianna Bowe added another goal—only her fourth all season.

Even with the odds stacked against the Eagles midway through the second, they staged a legitimate comeback attempt. Kate Weeks was a major reason why. Weeks scored three of BC’s six goals in the final 15 minutes of play. She got things going when she took a Kent pass and flung it right by Waters. Laura Frankenfield and Apuzzo tallied another two goals, and suddenly the Eagles were back to within four.

An Arsenault turnover disrupted BC’s scoring streak. UNC cleared the ball, and seconds later, McCool scored. But Walker’s group was not thrown.

Combined, Weeks and Hart accounted for the next three Eagles’ goals. Having outscored the Tar Heels 6-1 since the 15-minute mark in the second half, BC trailed by just two goals with less than four minutes to go.

Although UNC had practically fallen apart in the heart of the latter portion of the game, it stepped up when it mattered most. The Tar Heels drew a series of fouls and even yellow cards, while shutting down BC’s offense. UNC even scored one more goal. With time winding down, Reed found Hazar for the junior’s third score of the day.

With the loss, the Eagles are out of contention for an ACC Championship. Ultimately, the seven unanswered goals proved to be too much to overcome. Statistically, BC was outmatched. But for the second time this season, the Eagles truly put up a fight against the defending national champions. Only two other teams in the conference—Syracuse and Louisville—have played the Tar Heels as close as BC has.

Now, it’s a waiting game. On May 7, the NCAA will release the 26-team field for the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles have made the tournament each of the past four years. If its national ranking and strength of schedule are any indicators, BC should earn a bid for a chance to play for a national title.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

Pickett Silences BC Offense in Tar Heels’ Weekend Series Sweep

Boston College softball’s Jessica Dreswick has logged the second-most innings in the ACC. The junior also ranks in the top-five of every major pitching statistical category—wins, strikeouts, and earned-run average. But when the Eagles traveled to Chapel Hill over the weekend, not even she could quiet North Carolina’s offense.

The Tar Heels, who average more runs than any other team in the conference besides Florida State, tacked on a total of 17 in their sweep of BC.

On Saturday alone, UNC scored eight runs. But initially, it looked as if the Eagles had a chance to salvage a game in the series.

For the first time all weekend, BC got on the board before the Tar Heels. Leading off, Taylor Coroneos singled through the left side. In order to advance Coroneos into scoring position, Chloe Sharabba sacrifice bunted. Then, a passed ball allowed Coroneos to take third. All Annie Murphy needed was a fly ball to score Coroneos, but she got way more than that—ahead in the count, Murphy doubled to right field, and Coroneos crossed the plate for the game’s first run.  

Right after that, Tatiana Cortez hit a double of her own, scoring Murphy. Later in the inning, Allyson Moore singled, moving Cortez to third, but that’s as far as she’d get. Eventually, Lexi DiEmmanuele grounded out, stranding two Eagles on base.

Dreswick looked strong in the first two frames, as she held UNC to just one hit. But, thanks to a BC throwing error and a Taylor Wike double, the Tar Heels cut the deficit to one in the third inning. And shortly after, they tied it all up. Well, Brittany Pickett tied it all up.

In the top half of the inning, Pickett, who picked up wins in both games of Friday’s doubleheader, replaced Kendra Lynch on the rubber. And in the bottom half, she homered to left center, giving herself some run support.

Pickett retired the side in the top of the fifth, and the Tar Heels’ scoring spree began. Berlynne Delamora drew a walk to get things going. Brittany West was then called in to pinch run for Delamora, and Lynch was brought in to pinch hit for Hailey Cole. The switch paid off. Lynch launched one over the fence in right-center, giving UNC a two-run lead. But for the Tar Heels, that wasn’t good enough.

Whether it was a single through the hole or a walk, UNC continued to reach base. The Tar Heels scored three more runs before Dreswick was pulled. Jordan Weed came in to relieve Dreswick and stop the onslaught. Ultimately, she did, but only after Delamora singled through the left side, scoring UNC’s eighth and final run of the day.

BC responded with one run in the next inning, but small ball was not anywhere close to enough to compensate for its fifth-inning meltdown. Weed and Pickett traded scoreless innings to round out the game, and the Tar Heels claimed the 8-3 victory.

Unlike Saturday’s contest, UNC established an early lead in both of the Friday games.

The second game featured a pitching duel between Dreswick and Pickett. But all it took was two Tar Heel runs in the third inning to decide the game.

Coming into the inning, UNC had recorded just one hit. And once again, Dreswick all but silenced the Tar Heel bats. As a result, UNC turned to patience at the plate and aggressive base running. Destiny DeBerry and Wike drew walks to open up the frame. To make matters worse for the Eagles, DeBerry and Wike stole their respective bases during the ensuing at bat, edging closer to home plate. Soon after, Katelyn Shifflett doubled to right field, bringing home both of her teammates. Just like that, it was 2-0.

From that point forward, UNC only got one more hit off of Dreswick. But two runs was more than enough for Pickett, who went all seven innings, striking out six and allowing only three hits.

Dreswick countered with a comparable performance on the mound, but BC could not produce any kind of offense.

Much like the latter portion of the doubleheader, the Eagles struggled to get a piece of Pickett through the first six innings of play in the series opener.

On the other hand, it didn’t take UNC long to get a hold of Dreswick. In the bottom of the first, Shifflett singled up the middle. Then, Dreswick hit Delamora with a pitch. West replaced Delamora on the basepath. For a moment it appeared as if Dreswick regained her accuracy, as she fanned Lynch with just three pitches. But she walked the next Tar Heel batter, loading the bases.

Leah Murray grounded to shortstop, but Sharabba misfired on her throw to third, allowing Shifflett to score. UNC left three on base, but it took the lead.

The Tar Heels’ scoring didn’t resume until the fourth inning. But when it finally did, runs came in bunches.

It all started when Pickett reached base on a walk. Campbell Hutcherson then came in to run for Pickett. Micaela Abbatine singled through the left side, moving Hutcherson into scoring position. Next, Dreswick walked DeBerry—the ensuing batter—loading the bases. Wike capitalized on the opportunity, doubling to center and scoring Hutcherson and Abbatine.

Dreswick proceeded to walk in another run. And to top things off, she gave up an RBI single to Katie Bailiff. Having walked four batters and allowed just as many runs in one inning, Dreswick’s outing was cut short in the fourth. Weed’s number was called in the bullpen. She quickly ended the inning, but over the course of the next two frames, she too fell victim to the UNC offense. By the top of the seventh, the Tar Heels maintained a 7-0 advantage.

In a last-ditch effort, the Eagles put together four runs in the final frame. But it was by no means pretty. All but one of BC’s runs were unearned. If it wasn’t for a few miscues in the infield, the Eagles could have been staring at a shutout.

Despite winning every ACC series prior to its meeting with UNC, BC has consistently struggled offensively. In the past month, the Eagles have only posted one five-plus run performance. If anything, their three games against the Tar Heels uncovered a weakness that was previously disguised by winning.

Featured Image by Shaan Bijwadia / Heights Staff

Tar Heels Outscore BC by 24 Runs in Sunday Doubleheader

A Brian Rapp pitch struck Cody Roberts, and the North Carolina catcher trotted to first. Minutes later, Rapp walked Michael Busch. Before the junior pitcher knew it, two men were on base with only one out. It may have looked like a small second-inning jam, but it was the beginning of the end for Boston College baseball.

Logan Warmoth singled through the hole on the left side, scoring Cody Roberts. Immediately after that, Ashton McGee drew a walk, loading the bases. Then, Kyle Datres chopped one to third, which got underneath Brian Dempsey’s glove. The ball rolled into left field, giving the Tar Heels enough time to clear the bases. To make matters worse for BC, Brandon Riley followed up with a single into the left-center gap, scoring Datres and extending the UNC lead to seven.

Like the first game of the doubleheader, the Tar Heels distanced themselves from the Eagles in just a few innings of work. And BC’s deficit would only increase as the game went on. UNC tacked on eight more runs to cap off a 15-3 victory and a series sweep.

Having already used four pitchers in the first of Sunday’s two games, BC (9-20, 1-14 Atlantic Coast) turned to Brian Rapp to start the latter. But, right from the get-go, the No. 4 Tar Heels (26-6, 12-3) jumped out to a two-run lead.

Brian Miller started things off with a line drive directed Mitch Bigras’ way. The 6-foot-6 first baseman stretched to make the catch, but despite getting a glove on it, couldn’t come down with it. Instead the ball ricocheted off of his mit, allowing Miller to scamper to second. Warmoth and McGee played a little small ball to knock in Miller.

With two outs, Kevin Datres singled to center. Next, Brandon Riley hit a line drive over the head of Bigras. Now, with runners on the corners, Riley stole second. Eagles catcher Aaron Soucy took the bait and threw to second, but Jake Alu cut it off and, as Datres was on his way home, and zipped it back to Soucy. Yet, the tag was late, and Datres scored.

Meanwhile, Austin Bergner retired the side in his half of the frame. As a result, only minutes separated UNC’s first two plate appearances. To no one’s surprise, the Tar Heel’s continued to build momentum. Thanks to a few walks and clutch hits from both Datres and Riley, UNC widened its lead to seven.

Already in desperation mode, BC fired back. Well, sort of. Gian Martellini drew a walk, and Bigras shot one through the gap on the left side, moving a man into scoring position. Tactically, Alu grounded out to first, shifting the runners over. Jacob Yish also grounded out, but recorded the RBI on the play, as Martellini crossed the plate. Unlike the first game of the day, BC was on the board prior to the sixth inning, albeit one run. But it would take hours for head coach Mike Gambino’s crew to add anything else.

UNC wasn’t waiting. The Tar Heels rattled off three more runs in the next inning, forcing Gambino’s hand in the fourth. Jack Nelson—the first of three relievers—had to take the hill to slow the bleeding. But even he, who has had the hot hand of late, couldn’t get it done. Due to a combination of walks, an error, and a monster double by Roberts, the Tar Heels put together another three-run inning in the fifth, extending their lead to 12.

For the ensuing two innings, both sides traded scoreless frames. Donovan Casey offered Gambino some stability at the rubber, fanning two and holding the Tar Heels hitless. But as soon as Michael Strem came in for Casey, scoring resumed.

Roberts’ field day continued as he singled through the left side. He would then advance to second on a wild pitch. Busch and Miller scored Roberts on a pair of sacrifice flies. As soon as it looked like Strem was going to escape, Warmoth roped on over the left-field fence.

The Eagles retaliated with two runs of their own. After two quick outs, Dante Baldelli drew a walk. Anthony Maselli proceed to double down the right-field line. To complete the two-out “rally,” Strem singled up the middle, scoring both Baldelli and Maselli.

Neither team scored in the eighth, and due to the complexion of the game and the timing of the first game of the doubleheader, both sides agreed to end this one without a ninth inning of play.

There was a reason why the first game took so long. BC simply could not stop the UNC lineup.

At first it appeared that Dan Metzdorf would have an advantage against the left-handed heavy Tar Heels. But that wasn’t the case whatsoever. UNC tormented Metzdorf early and often, scoring five runs in the first four innings.

On the other hand, Tar Heels freshman Luca Dalatri was burning the Eagles. Literally. Rather than toying with breaking balls, Dalatri stuck to his fastball, and it payed off. He struck out five batters and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and a run until the sixth.

UNC really broke loose offensively in the fourth inning. Warmoth laid down the perfect bunt right along the third-base line, which came to screeching halt as soon as it reached the end of the grass. With one man on, McGee rocketed a shot toward second. Jake Palomaki tried to backhand it, but the ball got by him. Datres brought them all home with a three-run shot to left field.

And the Tar Heels weren’t done.

Zack Gahagan and Riley reached base, singling to shortstop and drawing a walk, respectively. Once again, Roberts came through: the first baseman singled through the left side, scoring Gahagan. Adam Pate would walk, loading the bases. And even though Brandon Martorano grounded into a double-play, Riley still scored on the play.

UNC picked up another run—its 11th—before BC scored its first.  

In the sixth, Aaron Soucy doubled to left, notching the first hit of his collegiate career. Dempsey then grounded out to first, advancing Soucy to third. Yish, another freshman, singled through the right side, scoring his fellow classmate. One inning later, Yish tallied another RBI, scoring Alu with a sacrifice fly.

Still down 11-2, BC’s bullpen wasn’t doing itself any favors. After two relatively flawless innings, Jack Cunningham gave up three runs in the eighth, virtually erasing everything the Eagles accomplished in the previous two innings.

BC got two more back in the bottom half of the inning, but it didn’t matter—partially because of the deficit at hand, and also due to the fact that UNC would go to score two of its own in the ninth, rounding out its total at 16 on the day.

The 16-4 loss foreshadowed what was to come for the Eagles. And it probably could have been foreseen, as BC gave up a season-high 17 runs to the Tar Heels on Saturday. Before this weekend, the Eagles hadn’t given up more than 13 runs all season. But against UNC, the they conceded at least 15 in each game of the series.

When the team is down as much as it was against UNC, there’s only one thing it can do.

“[Keep your] head down, play the game, not the scoreboard,” Gambino said. “And if you do that, assuming you get some good at bats, then all of sudden you can kind of keep doing that, and then you can get back in the ball game.”

Only, the Eagles could not get back in the ball game. Every time they got some sort of offensive spark, it was quickly quelled by a Tar Heel outburst—extinguishing any chance BC had to grab a game this weekend.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

Point/Counterpoint: Does BC’s Season Look Better or Worse After March?

North Carolina’s Title Only Helps BC’s Cause

Riley Overend | Sports Editor

I love the transitive property. If a = b and b = c, then a = c. Used incorrectly, it can distort reality, reframe issues entirely, and make fans of struggling teams feel slightly better about their losing seasons.

Example: Boston College men’s basketball almost beat North Carolina. North Carolina won the national championship. Therefore, BC almost won the national championship.

Okay, so maybe it’s not a foolproof method of drawing conclusions based on relationships. But this year’s March Madness did make me feel better about the Eagles’ 2016-17 season, and even eased some of my concerns about the future of the program. The tournament validated the talent of the Tar Heels—the only perennial powerhouse that doesn’t rely on one-and-done recruits—a team, in fact, that BC almost upset back in January.

At times, it was magical. With the Eagles facing a double-digit deficit midway through the first half, freshman Ky Bowman single-handedly sparked a 10-0 run that tied the game at 27-27. When Bowman and his signature red hair went to the bench for a breather, his partner in crime, Jerome Robinson, stepped up. The 6-foot-5 sophomore poured in 13 second-half points to keep the game close while UNC’s frontcourt had a field day in the paint. BC’s undersized forwards ultimately couldn’t contain the Tar Heels’ big men, as Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks combined for 56 points en route to a 90-82 win.

But the resounding story of that chilly Saturday afternoon was the Eagles’ young backcourt of Bowman and Robinson. The North Carolina natives left an impression on head coach Roy Williams, who couldn’t stop raving about their performances and marvelled at how they slipped under his radar as recruits. Bowman, who previously committed to UNC for football, dropped 33 points—his third 30-plus-point game of the year—to complement Robinson’s 18. And they did it all against defenders like Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson, who were celebrated for their lockdown perimeter defense in Monday’s national title game.

Pessimists might point out that the Eli Carter-led Eagles nearly took down the Tar Heels in 2015-16, narrowly falling, 68-65. But that team of two seasons ago never won a single ACC game.

Well, despite the fact that both UNC squads were ranked No. 9 and advanced to the national championship game, those two matchups were completely different. In 2016, the Tar Heels were in the midst of a slump, prompting Williams to send a message to the team by benching Meeks and Jackson to start the game.

While UNC didn’t shoot terribly percentage-wise from the field (31 percent from 3-point range, 51 percent overall), the team played like trash. Williams was so frustrated with the effort that he collapsed in the second half due to a spell of benign positional vertigo. It took some hero ball from Jackson and Marcus Paige down the stretch to eke out a slim victory over a really, really bad BC lineup that was without Robinson.

In 2017, the Tar Heels actually played like the ninth-best team in the nation. UNC boasted four different scorers in double digits and shot 43 percent from behind the arc. The Heels hit hard and, each time, the Eagles punched back. They showed that they can compete at a high level when they’re clicking, and watching UNC cut down the nets on Monday night only proved that.

Some say that the Tar Heels’ tournament run overshadowed the fact that the ACC, as a whole, significantly underperformed in March. Nine teams from the conference earned bids, yet only one remained in the Sweet 16. But I argue that the ACC’s poor tournament is a product of unlucky seeding and poor matchups, not a sign that the conference was deceivingly mediocre during the regular season.

No. 9 Virginia Tech was edged by an underrated Wisconsin team that went on to knock off No. 1 Villanova. Duke was ousted by South Carolina, which later became the surprise of the tournament when it reached its first-ever Final Four. Louisville was upset by Michigan, a squad that looked like a “team of destiny” for the first two rounds of play. Notre Dame ran up against a tough West Virginia lineup that showed it could beat anyone in the country with its lethal full-court press. The list goes on.

You can’t just ignore the regular season when assessing the strength of the ACC this year. The conference was still the best in terms of RPI and success in nonconference play. The league finished with a winning record against every conference in the country except, oddly, the Big East. Toward the bottom, it had more depth than any other conference, and at the top, it lay claim to the eventual national champion. Watching an ACC team prevail in March Madness—let alone a team like UNC, which the Eagles went toe-to-toe with just a few months ago—should have made every BC fan feel a little more optimistic about the future of the program.

ACC’s Tournament Blunders Raise Questions Concerning Eagles’ Season

Andy Backstrom | Asst. Sports Editor 

At one point this year, Boston College men’s basketball was ahead of Duke, Virginia, Louisville, and North Carolina in the ACC standings. Granted, it was one game into conference play and one day into the new year. But even as the Eagles would soon revert back to their home—the cellar of the league—fans were hopeful. After all, this was the ACC—the best conference in all of college basketball. Or so they thought.

I don’t blame them. The conference was coming off a record-breaking March Madness. It tallied more tournament wins than any team in prior history. Not to mention that six ACC teams made it to the Sweet 16, and four went on to the Elite Eight. More than a week remained before the national final, and the conference was guaranteed a chance to take home the championship.

Before this season started, Duke was voted as the preseason favorite to win the conference. Teams like Virginia and Syracuse rounded out the top-five. And North Carolina State was supposed to flirt with the best, as it was slotted to finish sixth in the league.

In actuality, the Blue Devils wouldn’t even crack the top-five. At times, NC State looked the worst team in the conference. And it was the Notre Dames and Florida States that contended for the ACC’s regular season title.

While some were skeptical of the underwhelming play of the conference’s powerhouses, many chose to ignore it. Instead, they adopted a philosophy defending the fluctuation in the standings. People theorized that, since the ACC was so good, any team could beat anyone on any day. Some, myself included, even resorted to Reddit’s transitive circle—a diagram that shows how every team in the ACC has indirectly defeated the remaining 14.

Besides, the AP’s Top-25 poll reflected that the conference was indeed the best in the nation. Despite having more losses than the teams surrounding them in the rankings, UNC, Duke, and Louisville found their way into the top-10 by season’s end. Combined, those three teams totaled 23 losses. The other seven teams in the top-10? Just 26. Heck, Virginia was still in the poll’s rankings with 10 losses and a meager ACC Tournament performance.

When it came to March, reality began to settle in. The ACC sent nine teams to the NCAA Tournament, but only one made it to the Sweet 16: UNC. Sure, the Tar Heels would go on to win the National Championship, but that by no means affirmed the conference’s superiority. By that logic, last year’s Big East was unrivaled and the American Athletic Conference of 2014 was greater than every Power Five conference.

The ACC’s shortcomings were exposed in the first two rounds of tournament play. A potentially revitalized Duke fell to South Carolina. Louisville and Notre Dame didn’t fare much better. And groups like Miami and Virginia Tech—the middle-of-the-pack teams in the conference—struggled to upend the allegedly weak Big Ten.

Including Wake Forest’s loss in the First Four, the ACC was 7-8 going into the Sweet 16. Even with the most teams in the field, it failed to pick up as many wins as the Pac-12, Big 12, and Big Ten. To make matters worse, it was the only conference out of the Power Five and Big East to post a sub-.500 record through the second round of the tournament.

BC’s postseason consisted of a day game in the ACC Tournament. But that doesn’t mean the program wasn’t affected by what transpired in the latter portion of March. Every time an ACC team was eliminated, the Eagles season looked that much worse.

Over the past two years, BC has won just as many ACC games. But for the most part, head coach Jim Christian has been cut some slack. He entered Chestnut Hill with one of the toughest jobs: rebuilding a David among a plethora of Goliaths. Yet, now that we know that the ACC isn’t as almighty as originally advertised, Christian and the Eagles have some explaining to do.

Maybe all of the conference’s upsets this year were a testament to the fact that the majority of the teams in the ACC are mediocre. And if that’s the case, there is no reason why BC shouldn’t have been in the same conversation with the bulk of the conference.

Look at Wake Forest. Coming off of a dismal 2-16 conference record in 2016, the Demon Deacons worked their way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years. Head coach Danny Manning was presented with the same problem that Christian faced—the challenge of creating a cohesive group of guys that can compete with the teams driven by marquee recruits.

Both Manning and Christian were hired in 2014. But, while the Eagles still dwell in the basement of the ACC, Wake Forest has already moved out.

For BC, the 2016-17 season was a sign of progress. The Eagles snapped a 666-day ACC losing streak, established the fifth-highest scoring backcourt in the Power Five, and, most importantly, found their identity. Hey, Christian’s group even gave the eventual national champions a scare.

But there is no time for moral victories.

Next year, Jerome Robinson will be a junior. And with the way Ky Bowman is playing, the All-ACC Freshman could very well leave early for the NBA. March uncovered the vulnerability of the ACC. The time is now for Christian to take advantage of it.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

In Wake of HB2.0, NCAA Should Keep Boycott of North Carolina

Last week, on the first anniversary of North Carolina’s HB2 law, the controversial “bathroom bill” that eliminated legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ+ community, the NCAA issued an ultimatum: Repeal the legislation or lose championship events until 2022.

North Carolina had weathered a storm of criticism and protests up to that point. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Nick Jonas cancelled performances in the state. PayPal put the brakes on business expansion in Charlotte that would have brought 400 jobs to the area. The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans from Charlotte, the NCAA pulled its postseason tournaments from the state, and the ACC followed suit soon after. In total, North Carolina lost about $250 million, but it wasn’t enough to force a repeal of HB2.

Until the NCAA’s most recent threat, that is. Lawmakers came together on Thursday to repeal the bathroom bill and replace it with HB142, a so-called compromise that leaves the NCAA in a tricky situation. On one hand, the new bill exempts schools from state bathroom regulations, like the one in HB2 that prevented from transgender people from using public restrooms corresponding with their gender identity. On the other hand, it prohibits local government entities from passing nondiscrimination laws until 2020.

NCAA President Mark Emmert told reporters at the Final Four that he, along with the board of presidents, will decide this week whether the new bill warrants a return of championship events to North Carolina. ACC president John Swofford also said he would review the league policy in response to the new legislation.

Yes, the NCAA deserves praise for using institutional pressure to achieve political change. But HB142, dubbed by critics as HB2.0, does not constitute political progress. Now, it’s flat-out illegal for cities to protect any LGBTQ+ rights with nondiscrimination ordinances. What’s worse, state and local government agencies can’t create transgender-friendly bathrooms and locker rooms policies because they won’t be permitted to regulate them. The NAACP called the law “an insult to civil rights.” The ACLU called it “more insidious in its targeting of LGBTQ people.”

If the NCAA is serious about equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, it won’t back down from its boycott against North Carolina. The idea of the NCAA as a moral authority does seem puzzling (don’t get me started on amateurism…). But, boy, does the organization have power.

Not only did the NCAA’s boycott affect North Carolina’s economy, but it also damaged the chances of its beloved teams in March Madness. No. 2 Duke was scheduled to play its  second-round game against No. 7 South Carolina in Greensboro, N.C., but HB2 threw a wrench in those plans. Instead, the matchup was moved to South Carolina, less than 100 miles away from the Gamecocks’ campus. With the arena packed full of South Carolina and UNC fans, who had watched their team play earlier that day and were rooting against their in-state rivals, the Blue Devils suffered a season-ending upset in a hostile environment.

With the repeal of HB2, North Carolina wants to pave the way for a future free of these types of interventions. The state submitted 133 bids for NCAA events between 2018 and 2022, worth a combined $250 million to the state economy. And a study by the Associated Press revealed North Carolina would lose at least $3.76 billion over a dozen years if HB2 remained in effect.

If North Carolina can escape these sanctions with HB2.0, Boston College should take action on its own by refraining from playing road games in the state next year. The University’s Jesuit values of inclusion fall right in line with a boycott against discriminatory practices.

At first glance, HB142 may seem like a step in the right direction. But that, precisely, is what makes it so dangerous. The movement against LGBTQ+ discrimination in North Carolina is now at risk of losing steam after building national momentum in the wake of HB2’s passage. If the perception of this new “compromise” is that the state is making progress, then the protests will stop. Business boycotts will fade and entertainers will return to stages while discrimination will persist in North Carolina.

Now, Emmert and the NCAA have more power than ever. Protesting in the sphere of higher education is the only way to truly reach the entire state. They can shatter this flawed perception of HB142 and force lawmakers to address the bathroom issue without throwing LGBTQ+ rights under the bus. If they take a stand, others might follow. A campaign against hate, over a year in the making, might succeed.

Discrimination has consequences. HB2.0 doesn’t just leave room for more discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, it explicitly outlaws efforts to fight against it. The decision for the NCAA should be simple: Maintain the boycott until the state addresses the problem with a meaningful, inclusive bill—not some fool’s gold piece of legislation that further embeds a marginalized population in a legal web of prejudice.

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor

It Takes More Than Five to Create Winning Basketball

On Monday morning, there was a new household name in the sports world: Luke Maye. After Malik Monk tied the South Regional final with just 7.2 seconds to go, the once walk-on got his chance at eternal glory.

Theo Pinson drove the ball up the court, pushing by De’Aaron Fox. Isaiah Briscoe trailed Monk, but Maye was left open on the outside. For head coach John Calipari’s group, the sophomore bench player was probably an afterthought. After all, he only averaged a mere 5.8 points and 14.4 minutes this season. But to that point, Maye looked like a premier starter, recording 15 points—six of which came from beyond the arc—in 20 minutes of play.

Maye received the ball and immediately released from right inside the 3-point line. The ball dropped through the net with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, and the Tar Heels were all but guaranteed a trip to Glendale.

Just two days earlier, Florida guard Chris Chiozza enjoyed comparable fame. Despite averaging a bit over 20 minutes per game throughout the season, Chiozza found himself on the floor in overtime in the East Regional semifinal against Wisconsin. A pair of Nigel Hayes free throws gave the Badgers a two-point advantage with only four seconds remaining—exactly what the 6-foot guard needed.

Chiozza took the inbound pass and sped down the court. Once he reached the 3-point line, the junior leapt, lunged forward, and fired away. The ball went in and Madison Square Garden erupted. 

Come March, top-notch bench performances always seem to come out of nowhere. But in reality, the best teams carry the kind of guys who have been making an impact long before brackets are being made.

In fact, according to Kenpom.com, all but one of this year’s Final Four feature a group of reserves who account for at least 32 percent of the team’s minutes—a mark that betters the national average. 

Maye, Silas Melson, Maik Katsar, you name ’em. Getting through two and a half weeks of tournament play, let alone a 30-plus-game regular season is incredibly hard without a strong supporting cast. Especially when a team is trying to play into a system that requires depth.

And that’s where Boston College goes wrong.

Entering the 2016-17 season, head coach Jim Christian changed his offensive philosophy. With the loss of 7-foot-1 Dennis Clifford, the Eagles interior was severely depleted. The third-year coach turned to graduate transfers to head the frontcourt: Mo Jeffers (6-foot-9) at the five and Connar Tava (6-foot-6) at the four.

Christian attempted to counteract the size disadvantage with tempo. If you think about it, the transition must have been tempting. Ky Bowman, a former Division I-caliber wide receiver was slotted to run the point. Not to mention that Bowman had Jerome Robinson and A.J. Turner, who had already shown that they could stretch the court in their first year with the team, at his side.

The offense was molded like the high-octane UCLA and Kentucky teams of this year. Score on the break early and often. To a certain extent BC did just that. In terms of tempo rankings, it jumped 207 spots, rocketing to No. 46 in the nation. On average, an Eagles offensive possession lasted 16.1 seconds.

But for Bowman and Co., that might have been too fast.

BC turned the ball over 14.6 times per game this past season. While Christian’s group cut down on turnovers over the course of the season, a number of miscues persisted. It seems reasonable, but it is by no means inevitable. For instance, UCLA—the 19th-fastest team in the country—only coughed up three turnovers in its Sweet Sixteen victory over Cincinnati on March 19.

For the Eagles, typical miscues consisted of errant passes and lack of ball control. This could have simply derived from nothing more than fatigue. BC’s reserves only took the court for 28.1 percent of the team’s total minutes. Consequently, the usual starters, Bowman, Robinson, Turner, Tava, and Jeffers, had to carry the load—not only in terms of minutes, but scoring too.

Only 17.9 of the Eagles’ 72.5 points per game came from the bench. And if it wasn’t for Jordan Chatman, that number would be even smaller. The rest of the production rested on the shoulders of the starting five. Bowman and Robinson, alone, were responsible for 33 points per game.

There comes a point when scheduling takes a toll on every team. Multiple conference games each week mixed with lengthy road trips is a recipe for disaster. And it didn’t help that the Eagles were trying to reach mach-five speed on every possession.

Usually, teams rely on depth and role players to step up when they need them the most. Excluding Chatman and Nik Popovic’s occasional outbursts, BC could not call on anything of the sort.

The moment Robinson cracked the top-five in the ACC’s scoring ranks, and Bowman recorded his first 30-point game, fans expected the two to tack on 20 every time they suited up. And that simply wasn’t going to happen.

Even the nation’s best have off days. For instance, take Josh Jackson. The projected NBA lottery pick shot a dismal 3-of-8 from the field and tallied 10 points in Kansas’ Midwest Regional final loss. But at least for teams like the Jayhawks, there are other numbers to call. As far as BC was concerned, if Bowman and Robinson were struggling or gassed, the game was all but over.

One of the worst cases of this was the Eagles’ 71-54 loss to Virginia on Jan. 18. Both of the underclassmen guards failed to reach double digits. And although the bench mustered 22 points, it wasn’t nearly enough to make the game competitive.

The short-term effects of the run-and-gun offense can be just as costly. Several times this year, BC entered halftime with lead. But on five separate occasions, the Eagles let it slip. Right when Bowman and Robinson started to stutter from the field, all scoring came to a halt. And as its opponents continued to cut into its deficit, BC panicked.

Instead of taking time to develop a play or move the ball inside, the Eagles resorted to perimeter shots. Generally, BC proved efficient from deep, converting on 37.4 percent of its 3-point attempts. But like any team, it hit rough patches. And because its possessions were so short, it didn’t take long for the opposition to close the gap.

It’s easy to fall in love with a fast-paced, shooting team. Look around your local sports apparel store. Wherever you’re from, you’ll find that it’s littered with Stephen Curry or James Harden advertisements and clothing. As fans, we are glued to quick and electric scoring possessions. Quite honestly, it caters to our attention spans.

But what we tend to forget is that this kind of basketball fails more times than not. Three out of the top-five fastest scoring teams in the NBA (Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, and Philadelphia 76ers) are pretty much irrelevant at this point of the season. The same is true at the collegiate level. Savannah State, The Citadel, Marshall, BYU, and Central Michigan rounded out this year’s top-five. Seriously. I’ve never even heard of Savannah State.

This style of play only works for teams that have depth—the Golden States and Houstons of the world, or in college terms, the UCLAs and Kentuckys.  

Many have suggested that BC’s frontcourt should be Christian’s next priority. But a 7-footer won’t fix everything. As long as the Eagles boast one of the fastest offenses in the nation, there will be the need for a strong supporting cast. If they don’t fill that void, some unsung hero in March, like Maye or Chiozza, will, once again, remind BC of what it’s missing.

Featured Image by Brandon Dill / AP Photo

Despite Halftime Lead, Eagles Fall Short of Upset in Chapel Hill

For the first 29 minutes and change on Saturday, Boston College lacrosse looked like the better team. Led by Kayla O’Connor and Kate Weeks, the Eagles mounted a 6-3 lead against North Carolina. Head coach Acacia Walker’s group disrupted the defending NCAA champions’ seventh-ranked offense, forcing three turnovers and several inaccurate shots.

But a mental error in the final seconds of the first period shifted all of the momentum.

Instead of holding out for the last shot of the half, O’Connor made her move with 16 seconds left on the clock. The senior forward approached the net and whipped up a shot, but Caylee Waters made the save. Waters cleared it, and in no time, the Tar Heels pushed the ball into BC territory.

With time winding down, Sydney Holman received a feed and penetrated the Eagles’ defense. Before she could get a shot off, she was fouled by Carly Bell. Only 2.1 ticks remained, but it was all Holman needed. She beat the horn with a free-position shot, taking her team into halftime down just a pair of goals.

In the first 13 minutes of the second half, UNC would pick up right where it left off, outscoring the Eagles 8-2. Despite staging a late comeback, the Tar Heels’ scoring spree proved too much for BC to overcome, and UNC escaped with a 15-13 victory.

It didn’t take long for No. 19 BC (8-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) to get on the board. Less than two minutes in, O’Connor—coming off a career-high five goals against Louisville—tallied both the Eagles’ first shot and goal of the game. But a mere 33 seconds later, Ela Hazar answered with a goal of her own.

A lull in scoring ended near the 23-minute mark. BC goaltender Zoe Ochoa scooped up a ground ball, but turned the it over in attempt to check it down to a teammate near the net. Ela Hazar capitalized, corralling the loose ball and flinging it into the twine.

The No. 2 Tar Heels’ (9-1, 2-0) lead wouldn’t last. Weeks located Laura Frankenfield on the left side of the field. Frankenfield took the ball inside, hurled a shot, but missed wide. Yet, in a matter of seconds, Emma Schurr ripped a shot of her own. This one reached the back of the net, equalizing the game at two goals a piece.

Weeks, who entered the game as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, recorded back-to-back goals to give the Eagles some breathing room. Marie McCool single-handedly reduced the UNC deficit to one. But that was temporary.

Over the course of two minutes, BC capped off two more scoring plays. First, Weeks connected with Hart, who rolled around Weeks’ backside and sent a shot past Waters. Soon after, the Eagles turned a Holman turnover into instant offense. Again, it was Weeks with the finish.

Just before halftime, Holman redeemed herself with a free-position goal. The Tar Heels’ scoring was just getting started.

A tad less than 20 seconds into the second period, Molly Hendricks brought UNC within one goal of the Eagles. For the next three and a half minutes, both sides traded goals. BC maintained an 8-7 lead, but eventually UNC’s pace was too fast for the Eagles to keep up with.

The Tar Heels dominated possession time for the next eight minutes. As a result, UNC tacked on five unanswered goals, stealing the lead from BC. McCool, Sammy Jo Tracy, Holman, Maggie Bill, and Caroline Wakefield all scored, regaining and widening the lead to four.

Sam Apuzzo stopped the bleeding halfway through the period. The nation’s points leader lurked behind the net, spun and hesitated, breaking her defenders’ ankles, before wrapping around for the score. Dempsey Arsenault would tally another Eagles’ goal on a free-position shot minutes later.

Yet the Tar Heels proceeded to quell BC’s surge with one of their own. A McCool free-position goal and a pair of Hendrick scores put UNC back up five. As a last-ditch effort, Weeks, Hart, and Arsenault rattled off three goals in the closing minutes, but it was too little, too late.

While BC outplayed the Tar Heels in the first half and even hung with them for a portion of the second, it was the Eagles’ physicality that came back to haunt them. The team racked up 36 fouls—four of which led to free-position goals. BC’s attack is as good as any in the country, but its defensive play will determine how far the Eagles can rise in the ACC this season.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor