On Saturday evening, Boston College opened ACC play with a 84-78 loss to NC State, doomed by awful free throw shooting and continued struggles in closing out the game.
The Eagles controlled the tip and Claudell Harris, continuing his hot play, promptly opened the scoring by draining what is quickly becoming his go-to shot: the left-to-right, off the dribble pull-up three. He followed it up by nailing a straightaway 2 from the top of the key. NC State looked to press their size advantage down low. I wrote a few days ago that Post’s defense has been a bit of a weakness in his game, but he started off this game excellently – staying vertical, limiting fouls and impacting shots. NC State only connected on 1 of their first 7 attempts from the floor. Coming out of the first media timeout, however, it was the massive DJ Burns, Jr. who found a little rhythm for the Pack. NC State took their first lead after an 11-0 run, which was not broken until a QP FT at 12:02 made it a 13-8 lead. Armani Mighty – who played very well against Vandy last week – could have tied the game after a huge and-1 dunk, but he missed the FT and NC State answered with an and-1 of their own.
After the hot shooting start, BC’s offense really struggled to generate anything in the half court. With 8 minutes in the half, BC was shooting an ugly 26.3%, having made a grand total of 5 fGs. They managed to stay in the game by taking advantage of the Pack’s aggressive defense, getting into the bonus early and connecting on FTs, staying within striking range but not making a big run. Things went from bad to worse when Claudell Harris came up hobbled after an aggressive pump fake – he left the game immediately. Donald Hand drained a 3 immediately after subbing on for Harris, and the shot seemed to inject some life into the Eagles. They connected on 3 of their next 4, cutting the lead to 6 with 2:02 to play in the half and getting the crowd into the game. The Eagles continued to press their momentum, and McGlockton connected on a triple on the last possession of the half to take the Eagles into halftime down 36-33 – despite Harris never returning to the floor after his injury and Post 0-4 from the field.
Harris would return at the start of the second half, however, to the relief of many. He announced his return with an aggressive drive to the rack, finishing sweetly off the glass. He looked much more aggressive today – looking to get his own, shake his man and attack off the dribble. With the way he’s been playing, he’s getting the ball in his hands a lot more and becoming a go-to bucket-getter for this team. Nevertheless, Burns continued to torch the Eagles down low, and some lazy turnovers kept BC at arm’s length. Quinten Post finally connected on a field goal, and followed it up with another right after, getting the crowd engaged and BC in rhythm. Zackery really lit up Conte when he forced a turnover and found Harris in transition for a big-time slam, forcing an NC State timeout. With 14:31 to play, the Eagles had cut their deficit to just 2.
Yet again, NC State would answer. They scored on four straight possessions to quiet the crowd and reestablish a 6-point lead. The teams kept it tight, trading buckets – Kelley finished a nice Euro layup in transition, but then missed consecutive 3s on a chance to take the lead. Donald Hand, though, hit another timely triple to draw the Eagles within 1, only to be answered by NC State buckets. First Prince Aligbe and then Chas Kelley had chances to tie or put the Eagles up, but Aligbe missed two FTs and airballed a three, while Kelley missed two FTs and two 3s of his own. Much like the CSU game, the Eagles just could not find that push to take the lead. NC State would push their lead to 5 or 6, BC would cut it to 1 or 2, and the cycle would repeat.
Down the stretch, the game stayed cagey and tight. Post made it a 3-point game on a putback layup, but a NC State FT restored it to 4. On the ensuing three possessions, each team scored, leaving us deadlocked with seconds to play. QP blew by his man and rocked the rim, before the Eagles defense forced their most clutch turnover of the day. Post – of course – answered yet again, splashing a fadeaway. DJ Burns answered, putting the Pack up, but Zackery got the rim and finished to tie the game again. With 26.8 seconds on the clock, though, Zackery could not hit a potential game winner, sending us to OT tied at 68. On the final play of the game, however, Donald Hand Jr. landed awkwardly and was immediately helped to the locker room. After the ACL injury, we are praying it is not serious.
OT began with an NC State triple, before McGlockton answered with a layup. Harris drilled a corner 3 to give the Eagles their first lead since early in the first half, but NC State answered instantly. Each offense was simply exploding; stops were few and far between. The final momentum shift came on a missed Aligbe FT – instead of tying the game, the Eagles were down 1 and Diarra added two FTs of his own to make it a 3 point game with 29.4 to play. With the game turning to a FT contest, NC State (who hit 18-21 of their FTs, compared to a putrid 14-26 for BC) sealed the win.