The Boston College men's basketball team gave #23 NC State all it could handle in both teams' ACC opener Saturday evening at Conte Forum, but it was not quite enough, as missed opportunities and clutch late free throws by NC State's Scott Wood allowed the Wolfpack to eke out the 78-73 victory. BC falls to 8-6 overall and 0-1 in ACC play, snapping a five-game winning streak.
You want to be optimistic and call this a moral victory of sorts, as BC has transformed over the past several weeks from a team that lost at home to Bryant to one that went toe-to-toe with a ranked team, but it's hard to feel that way after BC let several chances to tie the game or take the lead late slip away.
BC went 24-for-37 from the free throw line, most notably coming up short when Patrick Heckmann earned a trip to the line to shoot three freebies with BC down 74-71. He only hit 2-of-3, giving NC State the ball back with the lead; Wood was unflappable the rest of the way from the line to ice it, hitting two free throws on the ensuing possession to extend the lead back out to three. On BC's final possession in earnest, the Eagles got a pretty good look from three, when a Heckmann pump-fake and feed set up Joe Rahon with a decent opportunity from beyond the arc, but he missed it. Wood then hit two more free throws for the final margin.
The other issue for BC today as foul trouble, as both Heckmann and Olivier Hanlan missed large spells of the second half when they picked up third and fourth fouls early on. BC seemed to especially struggle defensively with Hanlan out. Hanlan had a good game overall when he was in there, scoring 10 points and adding 3 assists, but he was limited to 24 minutes of play total.
Dennis Clifford looked pretty good as he continues to work his way back to 100%, playing 24 minutes and notching five points and five rebounds.
Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon paced BC's scoring with 22 and 18 points, respectively. The Eagles had a hard time containing Rodney Purvis, who led the way for NC State with 19 points including several key shots.
BC came out firing early in this game, stretching out leads as large as seven points in the early going, leading 22-15 at the media timeout with 7:20 left in the half. But Purvis scored seven straight points for NC State shortly thereafter to evaporate BC's lead.
The final stretch of the first half was colossal struggle for BC, as they did not make a field goal for the entire last 8:56 of the half. They also sent NC State to the line early and often, putting the Wolfpack in the one-and-one with 7 minutes to play in the half. Thankfully for the Eagles, abysmal free throw shooting by NC State kept them in the game, and BC went into the locker room down 29-28 despite only shooting 38.1% from the floor, compared to 57.1% for NC State.
For a while during the middle section of the second half it looked like BC may well pull the upset, as they found their shooting touch and rode a wave of momentum to build a 53-47 lead with 9:43 to go after Dennis Clifford fought through two defenders in the post to score.
That would be BC's high water mark for the rest of the game. Lonnie Jackson hit a three pointer with 6:40 to go to stretch BC's lead back out to 4 at 58-54, but seconds later Purvis came right back to drain a three of his own to bring it back down to one. On the next possession, NC State hit a pair of free throws to take the lead.
BC took one more lead of 62-59 in another Jackson three pointer with 5:23 to go but, you guessed it, Purvis hit another three to tie it. A quick stop by NC State followed by a fast break layup by Lorenzo Brown gave the 'Pack the lead and from there they were in control of the game, albeit tenuously.
The Eagles return to the court on Wednesday night at Virginia Tech, a 7 PM start on NESN.
Updated, for highlights: