Early on in tonight’s game at Conte Forum, Boston College did just about all the things you need to do to have a shot at upsetting a team like Duke. They scrapped; they fought; they got to the loose balls first; they won contested rebounds; and they went on little runs to stay in it when Duke threatened to pull away. BC got 11 steals to Duke’s 5, outscored Duke in the paint, and had moments when they looked like they’d be able to make it a barnburner finish.
But ultimately, Duke’s talent won out - especially their ability to hit three pointers and free throws, two things BC struggled with even in their best moments during the game - and the Blue Devils pulled away to a 72-61 win in front of a sold out Conte Forum.
With the loss BC falls to 9-14 on the season (4-9) ACC, while Duke keeps on trucking in Coach K’s last season, continuing to pace the ACC with a 21-4 overall mark and an 11-3 record in conference play.
Duke finished the game 7-for-20 from three point land, while BC ended 1-for-12 - accounting for 18 points of the final margin. While you can’t fault BC for the shot selection of staying away from threes when they have struggled with them so much, they ultimately were going to need to hit a few to keep up with a high-flying Duke team, whose balanced effort saw five players score in double digits.
BC had some star performers of their own. James Karnik was especially hot in the first half, and scored 21 points total on the night. He accounted for most of the Eagles’ points in an early dogfight when they were trading blows with Duke. Karnik’s 12th point came with 6:44 left in the first half, when BC pulled to within two of Duke at 22-20.
In the second half, DeMarr Langford was the star man for the Eagles, single-handedly pushing BC briefly back in to the game after Duke started the half hot and threatened to make it lights out early.
With BC trailing Duke 51-38 with 12:39 to go, Langford got to the line after being flagrantly fouled, hit his free throw, then on the ensuing possession hit a layup to get BC back within single digits. He then earned his way to the line on the next two possessions, but only went 2-for-4 on those free throws, getting BC to within 51-44 — as close as they’d get the rest of the way. Langford ended up with 16 points total for the game.
Duke responded to BC’s Langford-inspired run by going on a 9-0 run of their own to put the game back out of reach, extending their lead to 62-44 with 7:59 remaining. Paolo Banchero, Trevor Keels, and Wendell Moore Jr showed their strength for Duke, hitting big threes as the Devils stretched it out.
BC kept fighting until the final minutes, pulling to within 10 in the final minute, but that was as close as they’d get. BC’s sellout crowd hopefully was entertained by the effort, as Earl Grant’s teams continue to show a dedication and commitment that is much appreciated by BC fans. This was a much better performance than the last time BC faced one of the ACC’s Tobacco Road blue bloods at home, when UNC slaughtered BC on their home court.
But despite BC’s ongoing work and improvement, they still have a long way to go before they can swim with the big fish - as Duke was happy to show on Saturday night.