Boston College came into Tuesday's late night road game against Maryland with a conference mark of 1-3. At face, that record doesn't look all that good. But the #ACCNarrative of the night was that the Eagles have been in every one of their four ACC games to date -- to the tune of 3 losses by a combined 9 points.
This game, unfortunately, was no exception.
The Eagles and Terrapins played even for a half before the Terps pulled away from BC for a 64-59 victory at the Comcast Center. Maryland improves to 15-4 (3-3 ACC) while the Eagles drop to .500, 9-9 and 1-4 in conference play. It was hardly a convincing win for the Terrapins and you can't help but think that had BC not come out so flat in the first half / had a little more bench depth / hit a few more free throws, that the Eagles would have pulled out the victory.
Sophomore Ryan Anderson led all scorers with 19 points, seven boards and three steals, but it wasn't enough to sink the Terps. Freshman point Olivier Hanlan added 18 points, seven boards and five assists, making a strong case to keep ACC Rookie of the Week honors at the Heights for the fourth consecutive week. Hanlan and Rahon have swept the league's Rookie of the Week honors since ACC play began.
Despite playing the Terps even for 20 minutes, the Eagles started slow and faded down the stretch. After a Ryan Anderson jumper just 22 seconds into the game, BC proceeded to miss its next eight attempts from the floor -- including a pair of missed Ryan Anderson free throws -- to dig themselves a 7-2 hole after more than five minutes of play. The Eagles would come back, putting together a couple runs to keep the game close in the first half. Neither team led by more than a bucket until the 9:12 mark of the second half.
In the second half, the Eagles faded down the stretch. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon went with a small lineup to guard against Donahue's four guard lineup for 11:35 of the 20 minutes in the second (compared to just 3:57 in the first). When BC and Maryland both had four guards on the floor, the Terps were able to outscore the Eagles 30-24 (and 26-18 in the second half), including a 12-1 second half run that put the game out of reach.
Maryland's Alex Len led all Terps scorers with 16 and 13, but Donahue seemed content to let the UMD center get his points in the paint. Rocking a smaller lineup, the Terps got added production from Logan Aronhalt (17 minutes, 8 points), Pe'Shon Howard (20 minutes) and Jake Layman (28 minutes, 15 points). Though it was hardly a dominant performance from the 10-point home favorites and the two teams seemed to play even for long stretches of the night before BC's short bench ultimately ran out of gas.
Free throw shooting continues to be a problem for this club. After leading the conference in FT% entering ACC play, the wheels have fallen off the charity stripe wagon. Boston College shot just 58.8% from the line, 10-17, and left plenty of points on the floor. One can't help but think what could have been had BC converted more FTs in the four losses to N.C. State, Wake Forest, Miami and now Maryland.
The only thing I can think of is that these guys are just gassed. Both freshman guards have logged a ton of minutes already this season. Rahon ranks second in the ACC at 35.5 minutes per game, while Hanlan ranks sixth with 34.0 per game. Anderson is the third Eagle ranking in the top 10 in the ACC for minutes per game with 33.1 minutes a game. Last night was no different. Hanlan led all Eagles with 38 minutes. Anderson and Rahon, who wasn't 100%, logged 37 minutes. Lonnie added 34, while Heckmann (23) and Clifford (19) rounded out the six man rotation of contributors.
There doesn't seem to be any correlation between poor free throw shooting at home versus on the road either. The late start to this one provided for a sleepy Maryland (announced) crowd of 13,941, seemingly negating any strong home court advantage save for a few spinning Maryland state flags interspersed among the crowd. The Eagles have turned in poor FT shooting performances at home -- 8-15 vs. Auburn -- as well as on the road -- 20-35 at Virginia Tech, 10-17 at Maryland. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the poor shooting at the line.
I also can't explain the poor shooting from the floor and from range. For a roster of players recruited for their shooting ability, the long stretches where BC can't buy a bucket are extremely frustrating. Misses beget more misses and BC constantly digs themselves into holes in which they can't recover. Heckmann was ice cold to start the game and, while the Eagles heated up in the first half's final 10 minutes, the 0-8 first half dry spell from the floor was one of the main contributors to yet another conference loss. Overall, BC shot 9-28 (32.1%) in the first half, 11-28 (39.3%) in the second and 20-56 for the game (35.7%). That's just not going to get it done in conference play, regardless of how down the conference may be this year.
Last year it was excruciatingly painful to watch this team. This year, while the entertainment factor has increased quite significantly, the losses feel about the same. I don't know about you, but as a fan, I'm pretty tired of this whole close loss thing and am hoping this team can finally break through with their second conference win shortly. The Eagles' next shot comes this Saturday afternoon, again on the road in Charlottesville.