The Eagles 5-game win streak was snapped in Charlottesville this afternoon after a wild finish to a close game. Both teams struggled with shooting early in the game. BC tried fullcourt pressure early to slow Virgina down but their zone defense was not able to close in on the perimeter, allowing for lots of open 3s. As advertised, the Virginia defense came to play and made it very difficult for the Eagles to drive the ball in the paint, with Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins combining for 6 blocked shots. Jerome Robinson and Jordan Chatman had nearly all the offense for BC in the first half with 11 and 10 points respectively, with Nik Popovic adding a pair of inside hook shots.
After starting 1-8 3FG, the 3s started to rain down from Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. Ky Bowman struggled offensively, the victim of a monster block from Wilkins and two missed 3s that helped contribute to an 0 for 4 start. More concerning, he turned the ball over 5 times (9 team turnovers) in the first half. Still, BC was able to pressure the Cavaliers into 8 turnovers of their own. After giving up several second and third chance shots early in the game, the Eagles were able to clean up as the half ticked down and keep the rebounding battle close with 14 to match UVA’s 18.
With BC down 30-25 at the half, the Cavaliers came out riding the wave of an unlikely hero in the second half. UVA’s sophomore guard Ty Jerome, who is averaging just 7.9 PPG on the season, came up with a monster second half. He would end up with 31 points on 65% shooting, including 6-9 3FG, when all was said and done. Still, the Eagles were able to handle everything that was thrown at them and answered with a hot hand of their own. Jerome Robinson put up 29 points including a pair of clutch 3s in the final 4 minutes to keep BC within striking distance. The Eagles were able to correct a few of their deficits from the first half. They outrebounded the Cavaliers in the second half 20 to 15 and did not allow another point off turnovers. All of this put BC, a 15-point underdog, in position to steal this one on the road as the game came down to the final minutes.
BC found themselves down 51-45 off a Kyle Guy 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes to play in the game. Guy’s shot had capped a 6-point run for the Cavaliers and John Paul Jones arena was rocking as the crowd sensed the game slipping away for BC. The Eagles’ resiliency was on display as Jordan Chatman and Jerome Robinson hit back to back 3s on the following possessions to tie the game back up. Ty Jerome came back with a 3 of his own, but Robinson answered with a contested jump shot on the other end. After another Jerome 3 to put UVA up 57-53, Jordan Chatman was fouled by Isaiah Wilkins and sank both free throws. With BC now down 2, Steffon Mitchell was whistled under the basket and Jerome hit both shots to put UVA up 4 with under a minute on the clock. Robinson answered with another smooth 3 to pull within 1. The offensive rebound dropped to Ty Jerome on the other end and BC was forced to foul, but Mitchell grabbed the rebound on Devon Hall’s missed free throw. Ky Bowman took it to the hoop with 5 seconds left on the clock, but it was not Bowman’s night. Isaiah Wilkins notched his 4th block of the game. The Eagles’ inbound pass was over Robinson’s head and intercepted, but the play was whistled back on a bizarre clock error. With one more chance to get a shot off, Popovic caught the inbound and attempted to create space for a shot but pushed off and was whistled for the offensive foul. It was certainly not the shot the Eagles wanted to end the game, but the swarming UVA defense did a great job making the inbound play difficult for BC. With that, the game was over and BC came up on the short end of a 59-58 score.
A 1-point loss is always discouraging, and this one could have been another signature win against a top-10 program for BC. Still, it’s hard not to be excited by this team and the way the’ve played in their first two ACC games. The rest of the conference should take notice; these are not the Eagles of recent years. The squad travels back to Chestnut Hill to take on a pair of unranked ACC opponents at home in the coming week. They tip off with Clemson on Wednesday night and Wake Forest next Saturday. It will be interesting to see how this group responds to the heartbreaker and moves forward.