It was a valiant effort in front of a huge crowd, but the Boston College Eagles just couldn't complete the upset of the #2 Syracuse Orange, falling 69-59. Olivier Hanlan had 13 points and 6 assists in the loss, while Trevor Cooney paced the Orange with 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting.
They say that basketball is a game of runs, but tonight's game took that saying to a whole new level. For most of the game, Boston College and Syracuse just took turns scoring two or three baskets in a row. Each team would go a couple minutes where they just couldn't get out of their own way, making dumb passes, stupid fouls, and taking terrible shots. But a lot of that was due to some really solid defense on both ends. Syracuse obviously plays their zone defense and that was pretty problematic for BC during certain parts of this game. It wasn't problematic, however, when the Eagles were hitting three-pointers.
Lonnie Jackson had another enormous game for the Eagles. This is supposed to be a team full of good three-point shooters, but they're all terribly inconsistent. Jackson had a rough start to the season, but seems to be hitting his stride lately. His release is by far the quickest on the team and that was put to good use against a Syracuse team full of athletic defenders. Jackson finished with 18 points on 6 of 9 from behind the arc.
After closing the first half on a solid run to make it a 32-30 Syracuse lead at halftime, the Eagles came out firing in the second half. They opened up an 8-point lead and everybody in Conte Forum lost it. The BC students went bananas. The numerous Orange fans had no idea what to do except sit there, pretending to be unimpressed. The people in the media seating (like me) just looked at each other, mouthing "HOLY SHIT" while furiously typing.
It was, of course, only a matter of time before Syracuse started playing like the #2 team in the country and closed that gap. You didn't think BC would have an easy win over an elite opponent, did you? The Orange mounted their comeback and retook the lead at 53-51 on a pretty monstrous and-1 by Jerami Grant. Boston College had put together a 15-2 run earlier in the second half and Syracuse responded with an 18-3 run of their own to make it a 62-53 lead. Trevor Cooney took a break from wide open breakaway dunks to hit some off-balance threes and floaters. Jerami Grant threw down a ridiculous put-back dunk and that was pretty much the end of the game.
Ultimately, Syracuse just had too much athleticism for the Eagles. They're one of the best teams in the country for a reason. They started gobbling up offensive rebounds and made big plays when they needed to. The Eagles just didn't have enough.
BC couldn't put together enough offense down the stretch to close the gap and Syracuse escaped with their 17th straight victory. It was a pretty awesome effort from the Eagles, but it was just another moral victory in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles fall to 1-3 in ACC play, but still aren't last in the conference -- TAKE THAT, TARHEELS.
Various notes and thoughts
- After falling behind 16-8 early, the Eagles seemed to make a concerted effort to push the ball down the floor whenever they had a chance in order to prevent Syracuse's zone defense from setting up. It was very clear that BC was going to struggle scoring in the half court against the zone. It was a very good, early adjustment by Steve Donahue. Once they started running, Olivier Hanlan was able to find open three-point shooters. That allowed BC to go on a run and take a 19-18 lead.
- The half court defense wasn't an issue in the first 20 minutes. Syracuse did almost all of its damage in transition where they scored 13 points off of 10 Eagles turnovers. Syracuse went on a 10-0 run towards the end of the first half. Six of those points came from breakaway 2-handed dunks by Trevor Cooney. Like, what?
- Apparently, BC listened to me. After the third dunk, the Eagles responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the lead down to 2 as the two teams entered the break.
- Tyler Ennis had an incredibly quiet first half, scoring just two points and recorded 3 assists. He was better in the second half, but still didn't stand out as anything special. He did a good job on defense, grabbing 6 steals. Some of those were sloppy passes from BC, but he has really quick hands and the zone defense lets him roam around and get in passing lanes.
- Ryan Anderson was big all game long, but just brutal from the charity stripe. He shot 6 of 13 on free throws, and this is probably a much different game if he makes those. As a team, the Eagles shot 16 of 26 (61.5%). They missed 10 free throws and lost by 10. Math is hard.
- UPDATE TO THE #FREEGARLANDOWENS MOVEMENT:
- Dennis Clifford didn't play at all in this game after putting together some real solid minutes in BC's win at Virginia Tech. I'll ask Donahue in the press conference why Clifford didn't play, but I suspect it was because Syracuse is just a bad matchup for him. They don't have a ton of size and their athletes would torch him in transition. BC didn't do a great job on the boards, but they did okay while keeping as much shooting on the floor as possible. UPDATE:
STOP LETTING TREVOR COONEY DUNK— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) January 14, 2014
Steve Donahue says Garland Owens hasn't fallen out of the rotation. He's dealing with a toe injury, not 100%.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) January 14, 2014
Dennis Clifford was unable to play due to a tweaked ankle during warmups. No related to the knee.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) January 14, 2014
- Ryan Anderson appears to have grown an evil beard. I love it. He looks very evil.
- HOLY EDDIE ODIO BLOCK. Do we have a video or GIF of that block on Jerami Grant?
- Speaking of Jerami Grant, he did unspeakable things to the rim on a put-back dunk late in the 2nd half. I just...whoa. Big time athlete.
- The student section was incredible, but there were a ton of Syracuse fans at Conte Forum. And when I say a ton of Syracuse fans, I mean a ton of Syracuse fans. Basketball is so much more fun to watch when there's an energetic crowd. I know that it was just because Cuse is ranked #2 in the country, but I wish we had that atmosphere at Conte more often.
Jerami Grant threw this one down on a tip-in dunk. He's long. pic.twitter.com/3gGaMU1zml— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 14, 2014