Coming into this game, Boston College was coming off a few lackluster performances against St. John’s and Florida that left the Eagles gassed and struggling to keep up with their opponents. Tonight? Both teams started out slow, so there was nobody to catch up with. But the offenses quickly picked up.
In the first half, it was three-pointers all the way down for the Eagles. BC didn’t score inside the arc for over 12 minutes to start the game, and they didn’t score inside the paint until Steffon Mitchell put up an and-1 with 3:15 left in the half. BC also struggled with communication and clumsiness, as they fell victim to plenty of unnecessary turnovers, including a shot clock violation that deflated whatever momentum they had going into halftime. Meanwhile, Minnesota had a bit more of a balanced attack but shot an abysmal 2-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. They got a lot more going inside than the Eagles and both teams kept it close throughout.
The second half became a game of runs. BC came out of the gate fully committed to their three-point game, so Wynston Tabbs and Jay Heath started putting on a bit of a clinic as the Eagles took a 15-point lead almost completely behind the arc. But Minnesota came storming right back, through both jumpers and inside shots, as the Eagles went cold. It came all the way back to a tie game with 5 minutes to play. From then on both teams went back-and-forth repeatedly with lots of lead changes. It looked like the Gophers were going to pull it out in regulation, but they missed 2 crucial free throws as time winded down. Langford hit a big lay-up on the other end to send it to OT and the Eagles might have a spark.
Overtime proved that to be untrue. Minnesota scored repeatedly down low and the BC defense struggled to get defensive rebounds as the game got out of hand. Add a few turnovers, missed three-pointers, and fouls? The Eagles couldn’t pull out the last second comeback.
Overall, it was a different look from the Eagles than we’re used to seeing. They played mostly competently and could generally match whatever the Gophers threw at them. But the offensive strategy of living and dying by the three-pointer ended up proving costly, and the end-of-game execution was severely lacking. Once the buckets stopped dropping halfway through the second half, BC struggled to find consistent offensive output. And a short OT period was unforgiving to BC’s inability to get back in a groove from behind the arc. This team is not built on lights-out shooters, but they certainly game-planned tonight like they were.
Some positives? Wynston Tabbs looked great for most of the game and really didn’t let up. He just didn’t necessarily get the ball as much as he should have towards the end of the game, so some missed shots from Jay Heath and friends put the nail in the coffin. James Karnik also really started to come alive in the second half and OT. His presence on the boards was felt and he started putting up some offense when BC desperately needed it.
The Eagles play Syracuse next on Saturday at 1pm.