After last week’s performance against Duke, it is completely understandable as to why the BC faithful would start to lose faith in this year’s basketball team. It wasn’t just a loss, but a throttling. Coming into a Tuesday night tilt against UVA brought about it a certain aura that those in attendance would probably be surprised not to experience. That aura was one of another throttling from a top 25 ACC team, let alone the reigning national champions. However, in the first half, the Eagles did not concede at the opening tip-off as they appeared to do against Duke but instead looked to silence the critiques and put UVA on early upset alert.
Despite BC being completely undersized this game with Popovic sitting out, the Eagles made it seem like UVA’s #1 ranking in defensive efficiency was simply a miscalculation. BC had no issues attacking the paint with Heath and Hamilton putting in some beautiful floaters over the trees of UVA defenders. BC was successfully able to move the rock around swimmingly and find their long-distance shooters for some momentum shifting threes. UVA is known to play slow and methodical basketball and only willing to take a shot if they are confident it will go in. It appeared as though BC was fully aware of this and looked to match it with a high-intensity pace of their own. At times, it felt as though BC was looking to run them out of the building and that UVA just simply couldn’t keep up. On defense, the Eagles looked like a whole new squad. They were defending the three well holding UVA to 2-10 shooting from the arch and clogging up the paint effectively. UVA was only able to finish shooting 34.6% from the field. Yet, despite the strong start, BC’s fatigue and desire to keep a fast pace eventually caught up to them and pointless fouls and turnovers from Chris Herren allowed UVA to climb back into contention. Nonetheless, the Eagles’ defense was able to stand firm and get into the locker room with a 30-26 advantage
The second half showed some more resilience from the Eagles as they continued to grind their way through the last twenty minutes with ferocity on the boards and intensity in the paint. CJ Felder was able to cut to the rim almost without fail in the opening minutes as UVA’s interior defense looked completely exposed. However, the true offensive stars of the night were Jay Heath (17 PTS | 2 AST | 1 REB) and Jared Hamilton (16 PTS | 1 AST | 2 REB ) who were able to stay consistent even when UVA was threatening. With that being said, this was for sure no cake walk in the second for the Eagles. UVA’s Kihei Clark really started to catch himself in a groove and pick up some ferocity of his own and help get the Cavs back in front around the 6 minute mark. The issue with UVA was that it seemed as though the other four guys on the floor had no interest in playing whatsover. They simply did not want it more than the Eagles and sometimes heart is what wins games which is exactly what we saw in the final few minutes.
After fighting hard all game, the Eagles had their back’s against the wall as UVA held a three point lead in the remaining minutes. For the first time all game, the ‘Hoo’ chants were raining over Conte which was the perfect storm for a BC collapse as we have seen in years prior. However, these young Eagles continued to play with pure grit and fought tooth and nail to the finish. Every time UVA threatened to pull away, BC came back with a rebuttal of their own. Yet, it wasn’t until the ball was in the hands of Jared Hamilton with 37 seconds left when he drained a corner pocket three to give BC the late three point lead to essentially ice the game for the Eagles. But the win was made official when UVA’s Diakite was unable to match a three of their own and Steffon Mitchell was able to throw his body on the floor for the rebound.
Gotta give these kids a ton of credit. They bounced back from a disasterous outting against Duke just a few days prior and now were able to potentially push UVA out of the top 25. Not to mention that they did all of this without their stars in Derryk Thornton and Nic Popovic. With the win, BC moves to 3-1 in ACC play and will continue their conference play against Georgia Tech with a 6:00 PM tip-off at Conte.