On Wednesday the Eagles completed their home and away regular season finale against the red hot Fighting Irish who are looking to finish their season strong and to punch their ticket to the big dance next month.
In their first meeting against the Irish at the beginning of the season, the Eagles looked to be a newly reformed team as they cruised to a 73-57 victory. However, as we have seen throughout this season, the result of the first conference game of the season is not always the best indicators of the team’s future success in the year. Notre Dame went into this contest 11-3 in the conference and 18-7 overall while the Eagles have had a rocky year, to say the least, with a 4-9 conference record to their name and sitting near the bottom of the ACC table. Needless to say, these two teams have evolved in different ways since their meeting in November but that certainly did not show at the beginning of the match.
The first half saw a contest that had the feel of a heavyweight boxing match. The Eagles stayed neck-and-neck with the Irish despite having their big man, James Karnik, sitting on the bench for most of the half with two fouls.
Despite Notre Dame shooting a solid 52% from the field in the first, the Eagles remained relentless as seemingly countered every blow by the Irish with a counterpunch of their own. Jaeden Zackery was able to find his range from deep nailing 2 threes the stalled out any glimpse of momentum coming from the Irish attack. Demarr Langford also had himself a great first half with some acrobatic turnaround jump-shots and displayed a type of ferocity that this team exemplified throughout the season. The Eagles were able to go into halftime shooting 60% from the field and 44% from deep, one of their best first half offensive performances of the season. It was clear that despite the stark difference in overall records, the Eagles were certainly playing up to their competition’s level.
The second half of this game was nothing more than gladiatorial. It was a non-stop explosive performance from each end as both teams found success all over the floor. Each side traded small leads throughout the contest. Zackery, Galloway and Demarr all were stellar on the offensive side of the floor. The unfortunate news for the Eagles was seeing both of their big men foul out which gave the size advantage to the Irish.
Both teams ended the half finishing shooting above 50% from the field and experiencing the juices of their own momentums. Yet, neither side was able to pull away. Notre Dame had the ball last in the second half with a chance to hit a game-winning jumper that ended up rimming out and sending the game into overtime.
Obviously, the task in overtime was going to be difficult for the Eagles who were forced to play small ball with all their big men out of the game. For the first three minutes of overtime, both sides could not find the bottom of the basket. However, due to the lack of size for the Eagles, the Irish were able to find easy buckets at the charity stripe to extend their lead out to four.
The closing minutes of overtime saw an intense back and forth display that was present throughout the game. Kanye Jones, who has struggled mightily from the field all season, was able to drill a clutch three to bring the game within one. However, ND was able to offer a counter punch on the opposite to create enough of a distance make BC need a three to try to send the game to double overtime. Yet, Brevin Galloway made a careless inbound pass that was intercepted by the Irish to effectively end the game in favor of ND.
All-in-all, this was a great effort all around from the Eagles against one of the best teams in the conference. At no point did it seem as though the Eagles were going to go quietly in this one and huge props to each player on the team. They were able to hang with the best but having their big men in foul trouble throughout the game, and eventually fouling out, proved to be the main thing that ended up hurting BC the most in the long-run of this game.
Nevertheless, a valiant effort that the the team should be proud of it. This was, simply put, a tough loss. The Eagles will continue on the road with their next contest in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse on Saturday with tip-off set for 12 EST.