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Game Recap: Men’s Basketball Boston College vs North Carolina State

Undermanned and Underpowered...

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

3 weeks to the day after their last game the Eagles finally took the court against the NC State Wolfpack. Much like their cancelled matchup with Florida State the Eagles entered today’s contest very shorthanded. The Eagles had only 5 scholarships athletes available. The BC players that were available were: Steffon Mitchell, CJ Felder, Jay Heath, Rich Kelly, Kamari Williams, Luka Kraljevic, Quinn Pemberton, Andrew Kenny, Jonathan Noel, Sam Holtze, and Will Jackowitz. The impact of the Eagles’ long lay-off and undermanned roster was front and center throughout the game as the Wolfpack blew the doors off their hinges in the first half and the Eagles just couldn’t recover, falling 65 to 81.

BC started out hot going on a 5-0 run but quickly went cold has the Wolfpack’s defense clamped down. Then the Wolfpack went on an 11-0 run as BC went ice-cold for pretty miuch the rest of the half. NC State, using their size advantage, had success driving the ball into the paint and either getting the tough bucket or going to the free throw line, from which they were very effective, hitting 7 out of their 8 free throw attempts. Turnovers and poor shooting just continued to hurt the Eagles. The Wolfpacks full-court pressure defense exacerbated the Eagles’ turnover problems. The tight defense did give the Eagles some open looks on the offensive end but BC just couldn’t sink any of them. As the half went on the Wolfpack continued to stretch their lead more and more and at the 5:05 minute mark the Wolfpack had a 37-8 lead over the Eagles. Freshman Shakeel Moore and senior DJ Funderburk were a one-two punch for the Wolfpack, with Funderburk especially making his presence felt inside on both ends of the court. At the 4:53 mark Jay Heath made a 3 that ended a 35-3 run for the Wolfpack and a streak of 13 straight misses for the Eagles. The Eagles shot 28.6% from the field and 22.2% from beyond the arc and committed 9 turnovers on the half. The Eagles were able to muster a slight run at the end of the half as they started to finally sink some of their open looks, especially from beyond the arc. Rich Kelly was able to draw a shooting foul on a last second shot attempt and hit all 3 free throw attempts and brought BC to within 20. The Eagles went into the locker room down 24 to 44.

The start of the second half didn’t bring much change as the Eagles started out cold and the Wolfpack started out hot. The Eagles were making more shots than they did in the first half but not by much. Unlike in the first half the Eagles were able to put a few good stretches together but every time they seemed to get it going NC State would slam the door shut and go on their own run. Shakeel Moore ended up leading the Wolfpack in scoring with 19 points, while DJ Funderbunk and Manny Bates both scored 14 and grabbed 7 rebounds. Steffon Mitchell continued to grind and was a bright spot for the Eagles in the second half, along with Kelly, Heath, and Felder who each had their moments in the second half. Another bright spot, was freshman Quinn Pemberton making his BC debut in the second half. Fellow walk-ons Jonathan Noel, Andrew Kenny, Will Jackowitz also saw time. With 3:27 left Jay Heath scored 4 straight baskets including a three pointer that brought the Eagles to within 19 points. Kenny ended the game with two straight 3-pointers that cut the lead to 16 points. Jay Heath’s late game surge pushed him to 20 points and BC’s leading scorer on the game, with Steffon Mitchell scoring 14 points and 7 rebounds. BC didn’t pack it in by any means but the first half deficit proved too much for the undermanned Eagles to overcome as NC State coasted much of the second half to an 81 to 65 victory.

Normally, the continued issues with turnovers and the poor shooting would be the focus of any postgame discussion, as, sadly, it has been much of this year. Yet in regards to this game it all has to be put into context. With only five scholarship players and pretty much only a week’s worth of practice after nearly a month of no basketball it isn’t surprising to see BC only shot 39% from the field, 26.5% from beyond the arc, and commit 15 turnovers. Even at full strength the Eagles were facing the #1 team in the ACC as far as forcing turnovers so maybe BC should be thankful it was only 15 . It is also isn’t much of a shock that NC State was able to dominate the interior like they did, with the Wolfpack grabbing 40 rebounds to BC’s 27. Any discussions on what BC needs to improve upon should really be put off until the team returns to full strength because anybody who watched today’s game could tell that this team did about as well as anybody could’ve expected given the circumstances.

Eagles next game will be home against Wake Forrest at 7 pm EST on Tuesday, February 10th.