The Eagles concluded non-conference play against the Albany Great Danes who came into the game as +16 underdogs and holding a 2-7 record on the season. Needless to say, the inception of the contest did not reflect those numbers.
The first half of this game was easily some of the worst basketball the Eagles have played to date. Not sure if the players were too distracted by upcoming final exams, but whatever it was they clearly seemed out of sorts. Attacking the paint proved completely ineffective as the aside from a few nice takes from Jaeden Zackery the Eagles kept committing charging penalties when trying to muscle their way into the paint and otherwise were simply just taking terrible looking shots from the field. Not to mention some poor layup attempts from Makai and Kanye Jones with no put-back support from Karnik or Post.
The Eagles finished the half shooting just 35% from the field and 27% from the arc. Zackery continued to be the sole bright spot from an offensive perspective as he led the team with eight points. Credit must be given to the Great Danes in the first half as they clearly came into Conte on a mission and were excellent on both ends of the floor. They forced 8 turnovers and displayed excellent ball movement in getting their shooters open in the corner for some clutch threes. As a team, Albany finished the first half shooting 50% from the field and 55% from deep, numbers that if they stood would not prove favorable for the Eagles. It was clear that Grant needed to talk some sense into his team and not allow them to play down to their competition which we have seen this program do time in and time out in years past.
The second half saw an early resurgence from the Eagles. Demarr Langford started to cook things up and helped push the Eagles to a 15-4 run to start the half. The Eagles also appeared to tighten things up on the defense end with some solid play down low coming from Post. However, that surge quickly came to a halt as the Danes did not want to play dead. It seemed as though every time the Eagles gained momentum the Danes were always there with an answer. De’vondre Perry and Matt Cerruti were unstoppable for the Danes as they combined for 30 points and seemingly always found a way to score.
Nevertheless, the Eagles kept fighting their way into the contest but they simply could not stall the Dane’s offense. Albany eventually was able to stretch out to a ten point lead but Jaeden Zackery was able to follow-up a Makai Ashton-Langford three-point play with a three of his own to keep BC close. However, just as you thought the Eagles were going eke out a win, Jamel Horton of Albany hit a clutch three with 36 seconds left over 7 footer Quinten Post to ice the game for the Danes.
Some final observations. The turnover differentials were the storyline statistic of the game as the Eagles turned the ball over 13 to the Danes’ 7 with two of those coming in garbage time. Second, where was TJ Bickerstaff? He was on the floor for what seemed to be most of the contest and ended the game only shooting the ball three teams and finishing with one point. Lastly, who can step up for us off the bench? Right now it seems like depth is going to be the main Achilles heel for this team going into ACC play and as much as I want Kanye Jones to succeed, he has certainly not been the answer.
Overall, this was a big facepalm loss for Eagles faithful and easily their worst loss to date. It also certainly does not instill much confidence as they look forward to ACC play beginning this next week on the road against a red hot Wake Forest team. Tip-off for that matchup is set for 6 EST.