Boston College fell to new lows today, losing 74-71 to UNH in OT.
With Makai Ashton-Langford ruled out for the contest, DeMarr Langford Jr. slid into the starting lineup for the Eagles as they looked to bounce back from their blowout loss to Duke. Unlike in previous contests, BC’s offense looked in rhythm early, as the Eagles scored on all of their first three possessions to take an early 6-5 advantage.
UNH does not field a tall team – their tallest player is 6’10 forward Ridvan Tutic – and BC found success offensively in the paint. On the other end of the floor, however, BC found itself in early foul trouble as they picked up three team fouls within the first five minutes.
Prince Aligbe, though not included in the starting lineup, returned for his first meaningful minutes since suffering his injury in the second game of the season and instantly made his presence felt. He collected a steal and offensive rebound for the Eagles, who were knotted at 11 with 12 minutes to play in the half.
For all their success on the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles struggled against UNH’s small, quick guards. Shifty G/F Clarence Daniels, in particular, was giving the Eagles fits as he poured in nine early points for the Wildcats. Aligbe, however, scored a bucket plus the foul for his first points since returning from injury to put the Eagles up 15-13. Another Bickerstaff putback had the Eagles up four, but then the offense began to dry up as players began to default to forced shots and bad threes that would not fall.
A quick 5-0 from the Eagles that saw a nice Madsen jumper gave some hope that BC would begin to pull away, but UNH would not go away. With 5 minutes left in the half another jumper from Daniels tied the game at 24, before he promptly drilled a 3 to put the Wildcats in front.
However, BC’s defense finally began to show up. Zackery applied some clamps to force a shot clock violation, McGlockton stuffed a layup, and Aligbe drilled two free throws to give BC the 34-32 lead with a minute to play in the period. He would add another free throw on the next possession, but a buzzer-beating 3 from UNH meant that the game was tied at 35 at half.
The Eagles scored first to open the second half, but as was much of the case in the first half UNH answered right back. Mason Madsen finally got going with a nice and-1 fadeaway, but BC’s defense continued to struggle. With 15:50 to play in the game, Boston College held to a slim 41-40 lead. It was not meant to last however, as Daniels caught fire. With 13:18 to play, he had 26 points on 11-14 shooting and UNH led by 7.
Then BC’s offensive issues reared its ugly head. Too often this season, the offense has degenerated into players forcing their way into tough, contested, and even double-teamed shots. That simply is not a recipe for success. Guys like Zackery – who shot close to 50% from downtown last year – and Langford – the best pure scorer on the team last year – have taken major steps backwards in the early portion of this season. Those tough shots will not consistently fall, and sure enough BC found themselves down 8 with no momentum and 10 minutes to play. Finally, BC was able to put a little run together with buckets from DeMarr and McGlockton to cut UNH’s lead to 4, and forcing seven straight misses from UNH. However, DeMarr’s night would come to a premature end as he fouled out with 6(!) minutes to play. Finally, JZ got one to fall and nailed a 3 to put the Eagles up 1 with 3:25 to play. Down the stretch, each team traded scores. Daniels hit 2 FTs (he finished with 34 points), but McGlockton hit a tough post shot. With 1:18 to play, BC led 60-59. McGlockton sank two clutch FTs to put BC back up by 1, and then finally forced a miss from Daniels. But nothing is ever easy with this team. McGlockton proceeded to get fouled again and missed both FTs, before Zackery committed a foul and Prince Aligbe fouled out as well. It took two missed free throws from UNH to keep BC alive, before Madsen finally sank two FTs to seemingly seal the win.
Then Daniels drilled a 3 to force OT. Zackery drew a blocking foul to open OT, and hit both FTs to give BC the slim lead. Two more Zackery points and a Bickerstaff FT gave BC a five point lead with 2:30 to play. In classic BC fashion, they then gave up a five point run to UNH to tie the game at 71. UNH’s Derry drilled a 3 with 23 seconds left, and BC fell 74-71.
Overall, BC’s offense in the first half was functional – and even fluid, for the first few minutes – despite DeMarr and JZ shooting a combined 2-14 at half. However, allowing UNH to score 35 points in a half is terrible. BC surrendered too many open looks on the perimeter, and McGlockton appears to be the only one with any sort of rim deterrence. He and Bickerstaff are decent rebounders, but with Post out this Eagles squad still gives up far too many second-chance points. Offensively in the second half, I’m beyond disappointed. Like I said, they were functional. At times. Against a non-P5 opponent. (While also looking completely dysfunctional at points in the second half). JZ and DeMarr look lost, and this team struggles for every point. They shot 3-20 from downtown in regulation. The offense needs to improve if they want to win ACC basketball games. Not a good night to a BC basketball fan, but as always, roll Eags.