Ugh. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Boston College runs out to a solid (but not massive) lead by playing good team ball and solid defense that masks a few errors in the first half. Then they make a bunch of mistakes just on either side of halftime, resulting in long scoreless stretches that lose said lead. And then they play average to below-average basketball in the second half, trailing most of the way. Except for the last few minutes, of course, where they fight like madmen to cut the lead to a couple of possessions, but still lose in disappointing and borderline heartbreaking fashion. It happened before, it happened again: your Boston College Eagles fell on a late basket to Pittsburgh tonight by a score of 74-72. Justin Champagnie led all scorers with 17 points, while Jay Heath led the Eagles with 16.
The Eagles got out early, building a first half lead by going 54% from deep. Wonderful ball movement got easy, open shots for BC in most of the first half. Consistently three or four men were moving, and when they weren’t, one was sitting in the corner waiting to hit a three. There were some mistakes, but patience and reliance on the scheme set the Eagles up for points, which they promptly took. Great defense by nearly everyone on the team masked a few small scoreless stretches, and Eagles fans felt confident.
But then, as if to set the tone for the second half, a flurry of BC turnovers and poor shots let the Panthers back into the game, who closed out the first half on a 9-0 run; ten turnovers in the first half could not hold back the onslaught forever.
And then in the second half, it just sort of… continued. The Eagles gave up the lead early in the half and rarely got within two possessions. The same problems that have haunted the Eagles all year came back with a vengeance. Poor shot selection led to fast break points, which the Eagles lost 16-8. Bad on-ball defense and giving up offensive rebounds led to a 44-24 disadvantage on points-in-the-paint. Any momentum that did exist in the first half was erased entirely.
BC managed, however, to stay within striking distance for the entire game. And, as they so often do, they surged as time began to tick down towards zero. Derryck Thornton knocked down a bucket with 12 seconds left to tie the game at 72, and it felt for a second that BC might just hold onto this one by their fingernails. But Ryan Murphy went down the court in the time remaining and hit a pull up two-pointer in Popovic’s face to win it.
Maybe there are positives to take from this game. But as a fan, it certainly feels deflating and depressing. There are no excuses and no momentum to take from this game. Just another loss.