The Belmont Bruins handed Boston College its first loss of the year this afternoon to the tune of a 100-85 smashing that was not as close as the score looked. Adam Kunkel led all scorers with 35 points, while Nik Popovic led BC with 23
An entertaining first half saw back and forth action and produced over a dozen lead changes and action at every end of the floor. The lead never got to more than four for either team, and when the ball wasn’t going into the net it was flying around - the two teams totaled 18 turnovers.
In that half, hot shooting from both teams was the name of the game. Boston College dominated the paint (+10), exploiting the early absence of Bruin center Nick Muszynski who wasn’t allowed to start due to oversleeping. Belmont, meanwhile, did probably the same thing that everybody expected coming in: they shot threes, and they shot them well. Consistent dribble penetration throughout the game for Adam Kunkel and others forced BC defenders to over help or back off, a tactic the Bruins exploited to great effect. At halftime they had shot 8/14 on threes, but the Eagles trailed by just two.
Then the second half happened, and BC just looked lost on defense. Belmont blitzed Christian’s crew with 32 points in 9 minutes and nobody in maroon and gold could muster any response. A Belmont 2-3 zone frustrated BC’s passing offense and it seemed like the Eagles got caught up in the speed of the game and wanted to get into a footrace with a team shooting 80% from three. That’s a terrible idea. I wrote in the preview that I was curious as to whether or not a pretty inexperienced BC squad would find a way to respond when Belmont went on a run. They did in the first half, but in the second it just fell apart. The team got outside of the gameplan on offense and stopped going to the paint as much as they probably should. On defense the same mistakes re-emerged that have plagued BC for the past few years, from free runners in transition to unmarked shooters in the half-court. The communication, which has made BC look good on defense in the first 3.5 games, disappeared this half.
The good news for Jim Christian and his squad is that they will face few teams that can shoot as well as Belmont during the rest of the season. The downside is that the issues Belmont exposed, in particular the issues some BC defenders have with keeping up with dribble drives, are going to be keyed in on by every team for the rest of the season.