Thomas Bertram Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Jimmy Carter administration, is frequently credited with the coining of the colloquialism "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," in the year 1977. Lance, had he seen the Penn State Nittany Lions beat the Boston College Eagles 67-58, might have thought the application of the phrase was be apt. After all, from the onset of the game, two things were clear: sophomore guard Shep Garner had a magic touch from three point range, and the Boston College Eagles were unable to contain him.
The sophomore guard began his night early, with a three pointer a little more than a minute into the game. The sophomore made seven more three point shots in the game, most from around the top of the arc (possibly due to playing home high school basketball games in this gym), en route to his scoring 30 points on the night. Many of the shots were uncontested, frustrating BC coach Jim Christian.
"When you get a good player, and you blow defensive assignments early, like we did back to back times and the guy gets going… two times we don't pressure him and he hits two deep threes, like I just told our team, until we figure out that you gotta compete hard for forty minutes, it's going to be difficult."
The Eagles and Nittany Lions battled for the balance of the first half, with the Eagles chasing the Nittany Lions most of the way. BC finally pulled ahead of Penn State late in the first half on two straight three pointers by Ervins Meznieks and A.J. Turner. The two teams traded free throws before going into the the locker room at halftime with the Eagles up 30-29.
The second half saw a continuation of momentum gained by the Eagles going into halftime, with the Eagles getting two layups from an uncharacteristically aggressive Dennis Clifford. With a Clifford dunk and two free throws, the Eagles built a seven point lead. The Eagles surrendered an 11-2 run and give up the lead, a lead that they did not find again.
"They were really just late closeouts," Christian said. "There was too much space, and were not contested well enough. He's still gotta make them, so I give him credit for that. It was just understanding how important that possession is. It really isn't a technical thing. If you play basketball, and you're competitive, and you're up by seven with I don't know how much time was left, you know that's a huge possession. You can't have defensive lapses, and if you miss one you can't do it two or three more times. Like I told my guys afterwards that's not age, that's not competing."
The Eagles played catchup for the rest of the way, not regaining the lead. To add insult to injury, the Eagles were 3 for 10 from the field in the last 8:07 of the game.
"I thought on the offensive end of it for the last seven minutes of the game we played lazy," Christian said. "I don't know if we were tired, or passed the ball lazy, didn't move, we were carving the zone up playing very nicely in the beginning and then we just got lazy with the ball. We weren't moving the way we were capable of moving."
The Eagles fell to below .500 for the first time this season. The Eagles will play the UMass Lowell River Hawks on Sunday.