Boston College took an ugly 88-67 loss to Nebraska in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Thursday night.
Boston College controlled the tip-off, but it was Nebraska with the early fireworks as forward Emmanuel Bandoumel finished off an alley-oop for the game’s first points. The momentum seemed to stick with Nebraska early, as Juwan Gary in particular made his presence felt with a big block on Ashton-Langford before finishing an and-1 bucket at the other end. The offenses on both sides were slow to start the game, as Nebraska took the early 5-3 lead with 15:31.
Like we’ve seen all season long from these Eagles, the half court offense struggled against Nebraska’s set defense. BC’s guards were struggling to penetrate to the paint and were forced to settle for tough, contested jumpers that were not falling. Matters were not helped by Jaedan Zackery picking up two personal fouls within the first 10 minutes of the game. However, Ashton-Langford and Chas Kelley hit back-to-back 3s to tie the game at 13 with 11 minutes to play in the half. Kelley came into the game averaging 3 PPG, but he was the one providing a spark off the bench to keep the Eagles’ offense rolling.
The Eagles and Cornhuskers traded buckets, as DeMarr Langford hit a nice layup to give the Eagles a quick 17-15 lead – only to be answered by a Nebraska 3. Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga found a groove, as he scored a quick 7 points off the bench. With 7:50 left in the half, the Eagles hung to a tenuous 22-20 lead. Tominaga, however, continued to cook and scored 6 straight by himself to put Nebraska up 26-22 with 6 minutes in the half. CJ Penha then decided to take matters into his own hands, hitting back-to-back triples, a FT and a layup to put the Eagles up 5 with 3:10 to play in the half.
Then Nebraska put Tominaga back in, and he reversed the Eagle’s fortunes. At half, Tominaga had 17 points on 5-5 shooting from the floor and 2-2 from the charity stripe; the Eagles just did not have an answer. Despite hitting 5-10 treys and shooting 48% overall from the floor in the first half, the Eagles trailed 37-34 at the break.
BC’s offensive struggles resurfaced as the second half started. Ashton-Langford made some poor decisions and missed some tough shots, allowing Nebraska to stretch their lead to 8 with 17:39 to play. Similarly to the start of the first half, both offenses couldn’t get shots to fall early in the 2nd. As BC’s offense continued to sputter, going scoreless for over 10 minutes dating back to the first half, the Cornhuskers stretched their lead to 15. BC just could not get anything going – 3s, layups, nothing. On the defensive side of the ball, Nebraska had their way as well. Tominaga had 23 points with 8:10 still to play, and BC trailed 64-43. Nebraska did not take its foot off the gas, hitting multiple 3s to prevent any BC comeback.
Overall, this was a tale of two halves. I thought BC played some of the best basketball of their season in the first half; they competed defensively, found a groove offensively and shot 50% from the outside. Chas Kelley and Devin McGlockton, in particular, played well. McGlockton is probably the second-best rebounder on the team, and I think he deserves more minutes.
The second half, however, was probably the worst I’ve seen from BC. There was absolutely no offense, whether it be because of poor shot selection, not being able to get to the rim, or missing from the outside. Once the points dried up, BC could not keep up with Nebraska’s offense. A disappointing 88-67 blowout tonight. BC will look to get healthy as they take on Duke this weekend to open ACC play.