NEW YORK- After a stretch of five games with only one win to show for it, a blown ten point lead in the first half, and a questionable foul call that yielded the go-ahead points for the Auburn Tigers, all seemed lost for the Boston College Eagles.
After all, this was the team that recently lost to then 2-8 Hartford. It would be only natural to have the Eagles lose in this fashion.
Yet, suddenly, in a New York Minute, Nik Popovic made the most important basket of the season, a tip-in in the basket on the 7th Ave. side of Madison Square Garden as time expired.
And suddenly, at least for the moment, the losses to Hartford, and Nicholls State earlier in the year became moot, as Popovic ran down the 31st Street side of the Garden, celebrating his team’s stunning 72-71 victory over the Auburn Tigers.
“I felt like the program was moving forward today,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “You could just see it. I was thankful that we had an opportunity to win and won, but even without that, I think we took a huge step forward, just from an emotional standpoint of how to play together, and fight, and that’s what we did today, we fought.”
The Eagles opened up the game on a hot streak, opening with a 12-2 advantage, as the Tigers struggled to adapt. However, between an Auburn team that heated up offensively and 16 first half turnovers for BC, the Tigers began to creep back into the game.
The Tigers crept further into the game, as the partisan Auburn crowd at Madison Square Garden began to fuel a comeback attempt. The Tigers did eventually take the lead at the 6:46 mark of the second half on a Anfernee McLemore tip-in.
From that point on the Eagles and tigers went back and forth to the last few seconds of the game when, with seven seconds left, Ky Bowman took a shooting foul to give the Tigers, who were down one point at the time, to tie and take the lead.
Danjel Purifoy, who finished with 27 points in the game, knocked in both free throws to take the lead for the Tigers, setting the stage for Auburn’s seventh win on the year.
The Eagles, however, had other plans.
After the free throws, Ky Bowman brought the ball up and put up a shot that went off the rim. Popovic jumped up and tipped the ball in, sending the Garden, and the Eagles into delirium.
“The tip-in was exciting,” Jerome Robinson said. “It was a feeling I’ve never had before, it was awesome, and for it to happen in this kind building, it makes it even sweeter.”
The Eagles improve to .500 on the year after beating its first major-conference opponent since defeating Georgia Tech on March 10, 2015 in the ACC Tournament. BC returns to The Heights Sunday, December 18 to take on Sacred Heart at 1 P.M at Conte Forum.