In a pretty similar game to last year’s Boston College-UMass-Amherst game at TD Garden, a strong Eagles start gave way to a UMass avalanche in the second half as the Minutemen turned a 32-24 halftime deficit into a 71-62 victory.
Despite holding the Minutemen to 4-for-15 from the field in the first half, Boston College was unable to stretch out a big lead, with a 21-8 advantage halfway through the first being the peak for the Eagles. The Minutemen stayed in the game down the stretch in the first half thanks to a combination of getting to the line frequently, going 16-for-24, and BC not being able to do the same, going just 3-for-7.
In addition to not getting to the line, the Eagles were held back in the first half by not having anyone other than Hanlan get into much of an offensive rhythm; Olivier’s 15 points accounted for nearly half of BC’s halftime score.
The Minutemen set the tone for the second half by storming out to a 4-0 run in the opening seconds, scoring on the opening possession, pressing and forcing a turnover, then scoring again. At 3:36 of the second half, Maxie Esho scored to give his team their first lead since the early minutes, one they would not relinquish. This was all part of a 19-5 run that turned the momentum around fully. The Eagles had a world of problems dealing with the Minutemen's press throughout the second half.
BC didn’t help their cause by getting into foul trouble early and often. Dennis Clifford and Aaron Brown both picked up two fouls in the opening five minutes and were held to 2 and 7 minutes respectively. BC went deep into its bench in the first half, with Alex Dragicevich and walk-on John Cain Carney each playing six minutes. By the halfway point of the second half, Odio and Magarity each had four personal fouls to put BC on the edge of losing some of their interior strength. Clifford and Magarity would later both foul out.
BC’s shooters were ice cold in the second half, not like what we witnessed against UNH. But unlike the Wildcats, the Minutemen were able to punish the Eagles for their failures.
Maxie Esho had a big game for the Amherstians, scoring 23 points and adding 9 rebounds. Cady Lalande had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Derrick Gordon also added 15 points.
That the Minutemen are a better team than BC at this point is not really surprising, but it’s certainly disappointing to see the Eagles gag away a golden opportunity to run UMass off the floor in the first half. However, BC just isn’t there yet, and certainly not with Aaron Brown spending much of the half on the bench.
As expected, neither Lonnie Jackson nor Idy Diallo returned from their injuries that kept them out of the season opener. BC will certainly hope to have them back this week when they head to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Eagles’ first game in San Juan is Thursday at 5 PM against New Mexico.