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Boston College Topples No. 1 Duke


NCAA Basketball: Duke at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit I had a whole article written that was inspired by the Jean Luc Picard quote: “Sometimes, it is possible to make no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness, that is life.” But sometimes there is justice in the world. Sometimes the good guys win. The good guys won this afternoon in Conte Forum, as Boston College toppled No. 1 Duke 89-84. It was a sterling performance by the guards: Ky Bowman had 30, Jerome Robinson had 24, and Jordan Chatman had 22.

Boston College did not play a flawless game against Duke. The Eagles were once again hampered by turnovers (17) and an inability to box out. Yet any observer could not have asked for much more from a team missing the veteran inside presence of Teddy Hawkins. Despite the absence, the Eagles actually managed to out-rebound Duke, 35-34. Rebounding is a reflection of effort, and every Eagle on the court brought all he had today. As Bowman put it: “The bigs going hard, so why not the guards going hard too?”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski pointed to the offensive rebounds as a major reason for his team’s loss, and specifically how the Eagles capitalized on those opportunities. In particular, the Eagles turned those rebounds into points and rained down from three on the Blue Devils. Everyone went unconscious early on and never seemed to let up. The team started off 11-16 in the first half and finished 15-26, with Robinson and Chatman hitting five a-piece. Even Nik Popovic hit one.

Bowman played his game of the year, repeatedly scoring tough points in the lane against one of the most physically dominant courts in the NCAA. He ended up one assist short of a triple-double and managed to avoid getting a fifth foul.

“This win really came down to preparation for us,” Coach Jim Christian said, “and then it came to poise.” The head coach deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the preparation. The offense came out ready to fire offensively, but perhaps more important was the defensive strategy. Steffon Mitchell held potential number one draft pick Marvin Bagley III to just 5 second-half points, never letting the forward get a clean catch in the post. The Eagles, justifiably criticized this year for poor rotations and not closing down, set their defensive effort to 11. It made the difference

It’s a potentially season defining win for the Eagles, who many left for dead just a week ago after losing Hawkins. But all of a sudden this team has proven that there’s no challenge or moment too big. In the words of Coach Christian: “That was college basketball. Boston College deserved that moment.”