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Wake Forest Defeats Boston College, 69-65

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Another comeback falls short

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

First off, it should be noted that Boston College was still missing DeMarr Langford Jr., Wynston Tabbs, and James Karnik entering this game. Missing those key players, especially Wynston Tabbs, put the Eagles at an immediate disadvantage.

BC’s CJ Felder started out the game very hot, scoring 5 points within the opening minutes and nabbing a bunch of boards too. But Wake Forest as a team was out-hustling BC by a long shot and finding many more quality looks, which allowed the Demon Deacons to take a commanding lead within the first 10 minutes of the game. Wake Forest found their offensive success in the transition with a few jumpers and lay-ups that allowed for some easy points. Their defensive success was found down low, as Boston College struggled to make any sort of presence felt in the post, driving to the basket, or rebounding loose balls. When the Eagles did score in the first half, it was typically in transition after a rebound or forced turnover. They managed to narrow the score a few times there but never took a lead. Neither team could really find any success in setting up shots through some traditional half-court ball movement, and both squads especially struggled from beyond the arc.

The second half began as more of the same, though the shooting percentages began to rise and both teams began to take better looks as the half went on. Wake Forest’s DuBose especially had a great game, leading his team with 17 points and excelling everywhere on the court, hitting threes on the outside and drawing fouls on the inside. Boston College, on the other hand, started to find some scoring, but the lack of depth and absence of top scorer Wynston Tabbs became increasingly obvious as the game wore on. For the majority of the second half, BC remained behind by double-digits and could not find consistent scoring from anyone on the team. The Eagles were eventually able to pick up some quick buckets as Jay Heath and CJ Felder started to create a couple of nice drives to the basket towards the end of the game. BC went on a 15-2 run at the end after starting to actually hustle and playing some hard-hitting defense that was lacking all night. It was a 1-point game with 2 minutes left.

But you’re not gonna believe this one... As soon as the Eagles were within striking distance, they abandoned the inside drives that had finally been working for them and instead elected to start chucking three-pointers. Jay Heath hit a huge one that brought the Eagles within 1 point, but it was followed by 4 straight misses from beyond the arc. It squashed the Eagles’ own attempt at redemption. Coach Christian called a timeout with a minute left and BC started going back to pushing the ball inside, but the missed three-pointers crept back into the gameplan and proved fatal.

Why did BC’s offense struggle so much? It wasn’t so much poor shot selection as it was just an inability to consistently create shots that could be even considered open. It was either contested jumpers (almost always misses) or contested drives to the rim (scored slightly more often). Three-pointers can be crucial in coming back from a double-digit deficit like the one that Wake Forest maintained for most of the game, but BC’s 24% shooting from beyond the arc made that possibility moot. The comeback should have continued to come from the inside drives that brought the Eagles back into the game.

Positives? CJ Felder has started to prove himself as a viable offensive and defensive threat while this roster has been depleted. The extra time on the court has allowed him to expand his game in a way that may prove valuable in future seasons. Jay Heath has also proved himself to be a consistent threat despite the stacked odds. Finally, Coach Christian was actually able to come up with a gameplan that brought the Eagles back into contention late in this one, although once again failing to close out another close game.

Boston College will visit Syracuse on Saturday at 2pm