Boston College let Syracuse pull away late in a 77-68 loss tonight.
The first few minutes went back-and-forth, with both sides trading buckets early. Makai Ashton-Langford got an early triple to fall, and then a nice and-1 bucket from Quinten Post had things all tied up at 10 after 4 minutes of action. The Orange’s zone defense, which gave BC major fits in the first matchup between these teams, did not slow the Eagles down as much in the first few minutes of the contest. BC’s ball movement – which was so effective in their upset of #20 Clemson – was similarly good to start this one, finding open shooters for good looks. After a clean, rhythm catch-and-shoot triple from Madsen, the Eagles only trailed 16-15. The two teams continued to trade buckets, however, with a sweet Quinten Post post move answering a Syracuse basket. With 9:41 in the first half, BC trailed 18-17.
However, BC’s shooting – always worrisome – began to cool down. Syracuse’s zone invites shots from beyond the arc but minimizes paint penetration. With little paint penetration, BC’s guards resorted to useless passes around the perimeter before jacking a triple or forcing an entry pass. As a team, they shoot under 30% from beyond the arc. Settling for triples against the Syracuse defense is a recipe for disaster for the Eagles – and they took 20 of them in the first half alone.
It was BC’s defense that kicked in as the offense slowed down. After the Clemson win, Earl Grant talked about how inserting Devin McGlockton into the starting lineup in place of the injured DeMarr Langford Jr. gave BC more length and disruptiveness on defense. That continued to be the case today in the first half, with BC forcing 5 Syracuse turnovers in the first half and preventing any major Syracuse runs.
Then Prince Aligbe – who took over for a few minutes against Clemson as well – lit the Conte crowd on fire. First he demolished a fast-break alley-oop from Jaeden Zackery. Then he volleyball-spiked a Syracuse shot, and on the next offensive possession he got on the end of another Zackery pass for an even-more thunderous alley–oop. He tied the game at 26 with 4 minutes to play. After a made Syracuse FT, Makai Ashton-Langford splashed a 3 from the top of the key to give the Eagles a 29-27 lead with 2:25 in the half. It did not last, however, as a few Joe Girard FTs and a Maliq Brown putback layup pushed Syracuse back on top. A Quinten Post triple quickly tied the game back up, but Syracuse took the 35-32 halftime lead after a Syracuse 3-pointer with seconds on the clock.
While certainly not BC’s best half, being only down 3 despite shooting 5/20 from the 3-point arc and 39% from the field was certainly positive. Slowing down Syracuse’s offense – and especially senior F Jesse Edwards, who had 13 first half points on 6/8 shooting – was the priority, as well as continuing to grind on offense and attack in transition as much as possible.
Unfortunately for BC, Devin McGlockton picked up his third personal foul on the first Syracuse offensive possession of the second half. He quickly took a seat in favor of TJ Bickerstaff, and Syracuse hit both FTs to take a 5-point lead. Jaeden Zackery quickly answered with a hard drive to the cup, cutting the deficit once again, but the two teams continued to go back and forth.
After shooting 1-5 in the first half, however, Zackery followed up his layup with a transition triple, before another Syracuse turnover resulted in a Post layup. With 16:28 to play, BC put together a nice 7-0 run to take a 41-39 lead, fueled by strong defense and transition offense.
Out of the timeout, Syracuse answered with a 10-0 run of their own and retook an 8-point lead. Some sloppy offense from BC gifted Syracuse some easy stops, and a Justin Taylor corner triple dropped through to give him his second trey of the day. Despite some makeable shot looks, BC could not connect and forced Earl Grant to call timeout following another Justin Taylor triple for the Orange.
Quinten Post finally ended the Orange run with a triple out of the timeout, only for Syracuse to answer with a layup. Jaeden Zackery continued his hot stretch with an and-1 bucket to give the Eagles some momentum, but Syracuse continued to answer BC bucket for bucket.
Chas Kelley, who has at times looked out of his depth as a developing freshman, then stepped up to the plate with some big-time plays. He started by drilling a three pointer. After BC finally forced a missed Syracuse shot, Makai drilled a layup to tie the game. Kelley then found a back-cutting Prince Aligbe with a nice pass for the latter’s third alley–oop of the game. However, BC was not able to create any separation – until Kelley drove hard to rack for a layup. Ashton-Langford then drew a steal and finished at the rack to put BC ahead 59-56 with 8:24 to play.
The Orange, however, then pulled ahead – this time for good. They scored 8 straight to retake a 5-point lead. Prince Aligbe picked up his fourth personal in the process and was taken out of the game with 5 minutes to play. BC switched into a zone to try to throw the Orange off, but Syracuse continued to hit big-time shots as the Eagle’s offense scored only 2 points in a 5-minute stretch. Jesse Edwards (27 points) continued to dominate for Syracuse, and BC just could not find an answer for him down low. With no answer to Syracuse’s offense and BC’s own offense going cold at the worst possible time, the game quickly got out of hand.
Zackery drilled a triple from the corner to trim BC’s deficit to 6, but a turnover on the ensuing BC offensive possession, combined with a questionable BC foul call, killed any Eagle momentum. Zackery then fouled out, and BC let the game get away. The Orange went on to win 77-68.