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Boston College, With Post Out, Loses to Clemson, 89-78

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles fell 89-78 to Clemson to fall to 1-4 in the ACC.

It took two minutes for either side to get a shot to go, with the first points scored through a Jaeden Zackery midrange jumper – encouraging to see after his disappointing 0-7 egg against Syracuse. Clemson especially struggled to shoot the ball in the early going, connecting on only one of their first eight shots from the floor. With offensive catalyst Quinten Post out (along with Prince Aligbe) due to a stomach illness, BC went to Claudell Harris early and often. Riding his hot hand in the past few games, he connected on 5 early points (despite only shooting 2-6 from the floor) to give the Eagles a slim 9-6 edge at the first media timeout.

Following the timeout, BC’s offense began to sputter. Without Post, and with Harris misfiring and on the bench, BC’s offense sorely lacked shot creation from its guards. While going on a four-minute scoring drought, they struggled to gain any separation or find any open shooters. Even when they did, shots weren’t falling. Clemson – knowing that without Post and Aligbe, BC will be very undersized in the frontcourt – leaned on their talented big PJ Hall and pounded the rock down low. Elijah Strong undoubtedly has talent, but is undersized as a 5 and is inexperienced. The Tigers were able to retake the lead behind Hall’s quick eight points, and as BC sought to pack the paint to slow down Hall, the Tiger’s guards began to see some open perimeter looks. With 9:37 to play in the half, the Eagles trailed 22-17.

With Hall on the bench, Grant went to a smaller five of Zackery, Harris, Hand, Madsen and McGlockton. Clemson F Ian Scheiffelin (9.5 PPG, 9.7 RPG) seized the opportunity against the smaller lineup, getting several good looks down low. On the other end, Madsen was able to provide a spark, using speed to get to the rack for a nice finish. Kelley checked in and he, too, got the offense going with a steal and feeding Zackery for a tough and-1 finish to draw the Eagles within 5. A minute later, another transition opportunity for Donald Hand led to points for BC. As the defense really found a rhythm, taking the ball away and collecting defensive rebounds, it led to more offense for the Eagles as they attacked in transition. Unfortunately, Clemson adjusted and once again let their bigs go to work down low, freeing shooters like Girard and Wiggins and allowing them to go to halftime up 44-35.

Out of the break, both offenses looked much smoother than they did at the start of the first half. With McGlockton along the perimeter orchestrating as the Eagle wings slashed and cut to the rim, Zackery found himself with Hall guarding him and splashed a 3 in his face. On the other end, BC continued to struggle defensively. Clemson went right at Strong, scoring multiple straight baskets in the paint. BC just had no answer for Clemson’s size, and with 14:45 to play Girard hit another 3 to put BC down 15.

Kelley and Strong both answered to keep BC within striking distance, but the defensive struggles meant that Clemson was able to keep the Eagles at arm’s length. Any time it seemed like the Eagles were going to cut the lead to single digits, Clemson came up with an offensive bucket and shut down BC at the other end. With threes not falling and no Post, every basket was a struggle. Down the stretch, Clemson continued to maintain their lead, trading buckets but never letting the Eagles within single digits. BC went on to fall 89-78 in a disappointing performance.