Boston College and Notre Dame took their storied Holy War rivalry to the hardcourt as the Eagles took on the Fighting Irish in South Bend. The Eagles were looking to come off their big victory over the Miami Hurricanes while Notre Dame was looking for it first ACC win. Despite a late push with under a minute left, BC came up short as the Fighting Irish got their first ACC win, 80-70.
The first half was all about speed. Notre Dame played their fast up-tempo style of basketball and the Eagles did their very best to stick with them. Both teams only had 3 offensive rebounds at the end of the first half which added to the quick pace of the game (Eagles finished with 20 total rebounds in the first half). The Eagles got some great opportunities in transition but struggled shooting consistently during the first half, Eagles only shot 39.3% from the field and 35.7% from beyond the arc. Senior Steffon Mitchell made his presence felt on the offensive end of the court in the first half, surpassing his previous season high scoring mark with 9 first half points including 2 three-pointers, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. BC’s offense was at its best in the first half when Mitchell and CJ Felder were scoring inside the paint which opened up opportunities for Wynston Tabbs and Jay Heath. However, the Eagles couldn’t seem to sustain any offensive rhythm consistently during the first half. The Eagles only had four turnovers but the number seemed much bigger considering Notre Dame did not commit a single turnover. Notre Dame ended the half with a 12-2 run that gave them a ten point, 42-32, lead going into the locker room.
Eagles started off the second half cold but Mitchell continued to impact the game, doing his very best to jumpstart the Eagles grabbing rebounds and converting a 3-point play. Mitchell was the fuel behind an 8-3 run for BC during the early stages of the second half, with a Felder three-pointer cutting the lead to 8. Yet much like the first half the Eagles responded to Notre Dame’s scoring runs with offensive flurries of their own but they were never able to sustain them long enough to get back in the game. Offensively the Eagles just weren’t as efficient as the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame shot 47.7% from the field and 45.2 % from beyond the arc while BC did end up shooting 43.3% from the field but only 31% from three-point land. Even with four fouls Dane Goodwin continued to hurt the Eagles with his offensive production, scoring the bulk of his team leading 21 points after committing that fourth foul. Throughout the second-half Felder and Mitchell continued to be effective inside the paint at both ends of the court. The trio of Heath, Felder, and Mitchell kept the Fighting Irish from totally blowing the doors off the game. Yet the Eagles could never keep a run going long enough to cut the lead to any less than 8 or 9. For a moment with a minute left it looked like the Eagles were going to make last minute push but two missed layups from Rich Kelly and a decision not to foul the Fighting Irish to extend the game snuffed that hope out quickly as BC fell to Notre Dame 70-80.
This was a very frustrating game to watch as BC would, once again, have stretches where they looked great both offensively and defensively. The trio of Mitchell, Felder, and Heath combined for 40 of the Eagle’s 70 points. Mitchell was a force, with a team leading 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 blocks. Tabbs and DeMarr Langford Jr. both had their moments in the game as well. However, as soon as the Eagles seemed to find their grove, they’d commit a turnover, or miss a shot and all the ground they gained would go away. Notre Dame seemed to have answer ready for any Eagles’ run while the Eagles only had an answer some of the time. In a back and forth game the Eagles just couldn’t break the Fighting Irish’s serve with enough consistency (forgive the Tennis reference). Just like most of BC’s losses this season the story remains that this team is better than its record but just can’t show it consistently enough to realize that potential.
The BC’s next contest will be on Wednesday, January 20th as the Eagles travel to Blacksburg to take on 20th ranked Virginia Tech.