After the last outing against the Blue Devils, it was safe to assume as an Eagles fan that tonight would be a classic instance of Deja Vu. The game opened up with the vegas odds having BC as a 14.5 point underdogs making them a sure to be cake walk for Coach K’s squad. However, for most of the game, we saw the exact opposite. Tonight was a brutal loss for the Eagles as they fought tooth and nail to try to scrap together an upset and it wasn’t until the closing minutes where the wheels started to fall off the wagon.
The first half saw a very improved, and dare I say ferocious Eagles squad. They were pounding the glass and fighting for every rebound and clogging up the paint to make Vernon Carey Jr. of Duke work for every put back opportunity. The Eagles defense was borderline impenetrable as they were able to hold the Devils to sub 30% shooting for the entire first half and keep them at their season’s lowest 21 points at the end of the half. They also were able to shut down the perimeter for the whole game and only allow Duke to convert on one three point shot all game and finishing at 7% shooting from beyond the arc the whole game. Yet, while BC’s defense was holding their own, their offense could not seem to really get things clicking to try to break things open. In appropriate narrative fashion, Derryk Thorton, the former Duke Blue Devil, had an amazing performance finishing nicely around the rim and shooting some nice jumpers from mid-range. He finished the first half with 10 of BC’s 24 first half points and brought the Eagles into the locker room with a three point edge and a ton of momentum going into the second half.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw a very similar story as the first half and it looked as though Duke would stay on upset alert. They got themselves into trouble early as they committed two fouls right in the first opening minutes and Carney Jr. collected his fourth personal of the game which Coach K immediately realized and threw him on the bench for most of the early minutes of the second half. Again, this was another opportunity for BC to take advantage of the Duke allstar on the bench, but yet nobody besides Thorton really appeared to be finding their stride offensively. Granted, Jay Heath and Popovic had some nice clutch layups and Steffon Mitchell was able to fight for each rebound like his life depended on it, but nothing really seemed to be fully clicking for the Eagles offense. Jared Hamilton also had to have one of the worst performances of his collegiate career. He had multiple opportunities to hit some momentum shifting shots and came up hitting the front of the iron on damn near every one. Then again, the Eagles were similar to the Blue Devils in their three point attempts as they too would finish 2/18 from long range. As a result, the Eagles had to continue to try to hold firm on defense, but after awhile the levy simply began to break as Duke switched into full gear and began to strike in the final five minutes.
As the clock continued to wind down, it was a back-and-forth ball game until the Blue Devils came out of Coach K timeout into a full court press which the Eagles simply did not see coming. The consistent traps around mid-court forced BC into throwing away the ball multiple times and some easy layups for Duke on the other end. The Blue Devils would then continue to go on a 8-0 run and start to take a commanding lead and hold the Eagles to no field goals for about four minutes. By then, the hole was too deep for the Eagles to dig out of and the clock eventually winded down to zero with the Eagles left hanging their heads low.
Yet, this game was another reason why this team has some seriously good potential in the future. It was evident that they were putting themselves out on the line for every play, diving for every rebound and fighting their way to the hoop for every layup opportunity. They just simply got out-coached and beaten by raw talent at the end of the day. Needless to say, I am proud of this team’s performance and can only be optimistic about the future of this team and program.
The Eagles will travel to Virginia Tech this Saturday for a noon tip-off and a chance to sweep the Hokies in conference play.