The Eagles came out with a seemingly newfound ferocity to open up the match as they simply would not allow Miami to blow the lid off of the contest. It was clear from early on that they smelled blood in the water and wanted to do whatever it took to secure their first ACC win of the season. For one of the few times this season, we saw a complimentary game of basketball amongst the Eagles. Specifically, Rich Kelly, Jay Heath and Steffon Mitchell all shined early on from all areas of the court. They adopted a “live by the three” mentality and certainly proved successful as they were able to finish the first shooting 9-17 from beyond the arc. Jay Heath capped off the half leading all scorers with 14 first half points. Furthermore, the Eagles were able to hold on to the ball effectively as they only turned the ball over four times with I believe half off those being for travel calls.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles came out early with a zone defense that threw the Canes completely off balance. The three point line becoming a “No Shooting” zone for Miami as they finished with just one three pointer in the half. The Eagles, instead, forced Miami to beat them down low in the paint which is where they were able to find pretty much all of their points. CJ Felder was an absolute monster on both sides of the floor but deserves a shoutout for his ability to force turnovers and contest most shots coming his way. What was more impressive was that top 5 ACC scoring leader, Isaiah Wong, was virtually non-existent in the first as the Eagles were able to hold him to just two shots and one made field goal. In the zone defense, the Eagles were able to switch smoothly and effectively and essentially take Wong out of the game early.
Switching gears to the second, the Eagles barrage from the three point line continued. Rich Kelly and Jay Heath put on an absolute clinic from beyond the arc with Kelly finishing with a career high in points with the Eagles with 27. Jay Heath finished with a new career high as well in points with 25. Miami looked absolutely debilitated and in shambles come the mid-way point of the second as they simply could not click at all. Much of it must have been the fact that they were only playing eight guys tonight. They looked absolutely gassed and disappointed in their performance as BC just kept on hammering them from deep. Isaiah Wong continued to be ineffective and they were unable to find their stride from the three-point line as they only were able to hit one more three in the game. Both threes coming from their bench player Elijah Olaniyi. In summary, the Canes simply had no answers for the Eagles at all and essentially chalked this game up as a loss midway through the second.
In consensus, this was an extremely pleasant game to watch. Not just because the Eagles won, but because we finally got to see what happens when these kids play 40 straight minutes of basketball and with a chip on their shoulder. Everyone that touched to court tonight had an impact. Felder and Mitchell both finished with near double-doubles, Heath and Kelly’s scoring barrage, and Langford helping in dishing the rock with 3 assists of his own. Not to mention, Felder also had 5 blocks to go along with his 10 points and 8 boards making him a more dangerous threat down-low which you love to see. In essence, this team has had some growing pains, and we collectively have grown frustrated at some of their consistent mistakes. However, tonight was a great night for this team as their continuous momentum, perseverance and chemistry propelled them to their first ACC win. Obviously, we hope that they can carry this ferocity and spirit on to their next game but for now let us all just collectively agree that winning feels pretty damn good.
The Eagles travel to South Bend on Saturday to take on the Fighting Irish with tip-off scheduled for 6 EST.