A grim ride home awaits Boston College has Jim Boeheim’s Orange squad routed the Eagles. Yet again BC was undone by poor shooting, while Syracuse went against their usual 3-point heavy ways, (they still shot plenty of those) driving insides for short to medium looks. Boeheim’s own son Buddy Boeheim led all scorers with 22 points. CJ Felder and Jairus Hamilton both led BC with 9 points. Chris Herren Jr. and Julian Rishwain turned in 6 points off two 3 point shots. These were 4 of BC’s six three points scores despite 30 attempts. Derryck Thornton’s return to the lineup did not seem to add the juice we all hoped it would, as BC’s leading scorer only notched 4 points.
The cold shooting that plagued BC last game seemed to follow them into the first half of this one. BC took a one point lead when CJ Felder went to the free throw line. His one made free throw was the game’s first point and the last time BC would have the lead for the rest of the game. In the first half the Eagles struggled with Syracuse’s zone defense which was tightly packed inside the three point arc. BC’s solution to this zone was to try three point shot after three point shot but the BC shooters just couldn’t find the range. It didn’t help that Jay Heath found himself in foul trouble midway through the first half. Meanwhile, plenty of Syrcause’s shots were going in. After going 6 minutes without a field goal Syracuse heated up, especially Buddy Boeheim who not only lived up to his reputation as a three point shooter but found ways to drive to the basket and score interior field goals. To make things worse, BC’s early season tendency for bad turnovers reared its ugly head. While during the first half of the Georgia Tech game BC’s defense kept the Eagles in the game, against Syracuse the Eagles defense struggled; especially when it came to guarding the three-ball. Even when BC was able to force turnovers Syracuse was able to get back on defense quickly and stymie and fast-break opportunities. This trend continued throughout the game. BC only scored 13 point in the first half, while Syracuse put up 38.
The Eagles played much better in the second half. They were able to find holes in the zone and get closer, more high percentage, shots. BC still had to wait till halfway through the second half before Julian Rishwain hit the team’s first three. BC managed to score 37 points in the second half but were never able to get the defensive stops they needed to mount a comeback. Syracuse just didn’t miss. The Orange ended the game shooting a blazing 51.9% from the field and 44% from three. That type of shooting performance was just too much for BC to overcome. BC scored 37 to Syracuse’s 38 in the second half. If the Eagles had been able to figure out the Orange’s zone sooner perhaps this could have been a closer contest.
Unlike the Georgia Tech game, I’m not sure BC’s poor shooting can be chalked up to just a bad night. While in the previous BC seemed to be finding their spot, this game BC seemed to settle for too many three’s. In the second half, BC managed to find the weak spots in the zone they couldn’t in the first but it was too late. Another difference from last Saturday’s loss was that the Eagles didn’t play as well overall. More turnovers, fewer rebounds (Syracuse out-rebounded BC 36 to 23), and more mistakes on defense compounded the team’s poor shooting.
Consistency, has been the true Achilles's heal of the Eagles this year. The team has struggled at times to turn in a complete game. Tonight they seemed to struggle with a little bit of everything. Going forward the Eagles need to work on getting the ball inside because at this point in the season, I don’t believe this team is going to develop into a good three point shooting team. Nik Popovic return would help amp up the Eagles’ interior game but with more and more game experience, CJ Felder will only get better as he adjusts to the college game.
The Eagles trip to Wake Forrest will be all about one thing: getting shots to drop. The Eagles managed to beat the Demon Deacons in their meeting in the first game of the season and Sunday’s game gives BC a few days to find their groove again.