On Friday night, the Boston College Eagles opened ACC play with a dominant 73-57 win over rival Notre Dame. It was the debut ACC victory for head coach Earl Grant whose Eagles are now 6-3, including a 6-0 mark at home.
Conte Forum had an energy unlike any I’ve seen in my brief time covering BC men’s basketball. From before the opening tip the student section was rocking. James Karnik gave the fans something to cheer about by winning the tip and then draining a 3-pointer to open up the scoring. The Eagles opened up the game on a 7-0 run before the Fighting Irish responded with a 5-0 run of their own, as 2 early turnovers disrupted BC’s streak. After Quinten Post stopped ND’s run the game went back and forth with Post making two consecutive trips to the line and converting on both free throws.
BC was able to build a 24 to 16 lead with 8:48 left in the half thanks to some tough defense and a big 3 pointer by Brevin Galloway. With 5:45 left in the half the Eagles took advantage of a 2:12 Fighting Irish scoreless stretch and increased their lead to 9, thanks to two straight baskets from James Karnik.
With 2:30 left the half the Eagles were dominating Notre Dame in the rebounding category, 23 to 12, and 7 to 3 in terms of offensive rebounds. The Eagles finished off the half by making 5 of their last 7 shots on the way to 37 to 27 point lead, shooting 47% from the floor for the half.
The Eagles fed off defense, rebounding, strong interior presence, and an electric Conte Forum crowd throughout the half. The Eagles held Notre Dame to 37% shooting while out-rebounding them 24 to 12, and 8 to 3 when it came to offensive rebounds. James Karnik and Quinten Post both scored 11 points and Karnik added in 11 rebounds but it was a true team effort as the Eagles had 8 assists on the half. The big men stretched the floor with a few 3-point shots but BC made their home in the front of the basket.
Much like the first half, James Karnik got the second half started off with a statement as he slapped away a Notre Dame shot which led to a TJ Bickerstaff 3-pointer. The Eagles started the half off hot going on 7-0 run over 1:27 which extended their lead to 47-29. TJ Bickerstaff’s 2 threes in the first 5 minutes added extra juice to the BC formula of rebounding and James Karnik shots. Ultimately, BC went 12-0 before ND finally scored. This scoring run increased BC’s lead to 23.
Notre Dame then went on a run of their own before TJ Bickerstaff put an end to it by scoring 6 straight points, including 2 free-throws. BC then held ND scoreless for nearly 3 minutes. With 8:23 to go the Fighting Irish went on a run and were able to cut the lead to 62-45. As Notre Dame tried to climb back into the game, BC responded by hitting their next 3 shots to build the lead to 18. A late technical foul on Notre Dame’s Elijah Taylor gave BC two free-throws as ND’s frustration started to show. The Eagles didn’t slow down, hitting 4 out of their next 5 shots.
With 2 minutes left to go in the half BC held an 18 point lead and the end was in sight for Notre Dame. The Eagles coasted to the finish as Notre Dame went 2 for 10 shooting from the floor in the last 2 minutes, excluding 2 free throws.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 49% from the floor while holding ND to just 38% shooting. James Karnik led BC in scoring with 17 points as well as in rebounds with 13. Both Makai Ashton Langford and DeMarr Langford Jr. tied for a team leading 4 assists. The Eagles ended up out rebounding Notre Dame 38 to 27 which played a big role in the victory, especially with the 10 to 6 advantage in offensive rebounds. As they’ve done all year long, BC won this with solid defense and strong team offense.