On Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden for the Boston’s Coaches vs. Cancer event, the Boston College men’s basketball team had a chance to make a big statement against a UMass team that appeared in the NCAA tournament just last season. The Eagles came into this game off their first win with a new coach, new key players and a new season ahead of them. For 20 minutes, this all looked great. Then, the second half began.
The Eagles eventual 71-62 loss did not start the way it ended. In fact, BC led at the halfway mark by 8, despite early foul trouble for Dennis Clifford and Aaron Brown. The biggest difference for the Eagles in their two very different halves was jump shooting. Coming off last game, in which they hit 1 of 19 tries from long range, the Eagles topped their total in the first half alone, going 3 for 8 from deep. Additionally, in the first half the Eagles hit 7 of their 18 jumpers and shot 46 percent from the field overall. It would have been nice to see this shooting touch carry over for the full duration of the game, but unfortunately it faded fast.
It took BC over 7 minutes in the second half to score from the field. For more than the first 7 minutes of the second half, BC did not score from anywhere but the line. As much as this is a sign that the Eagles went cold, it is also a testament to the adjustments made by the Minutemen at the half. Boston College was not at all fazed by the full-court trap and fast- paced basketball of UMass in the opening half, but they were visibly shaken in the second. UMass upped their defensive intensity and BC couldn’t break the press like they did in the first half.
A few sloppy turnovers later, the Eagles had lost their lead and were left looking frustrated and discouraged. This, however, may be attributed to two factors that could not go without notice during this contest, the first of which being the difference in total personal fouls. Whether it was coincidence, UMass’ fast pace attacking style or poor officiating, the Eagles were called for 9 more fouls than the Minutemen were called for. This allowed UMass to take nearly 20 more attempts from the line—a difference that, looking back, clearly played a huge role in the outcome of the game.
The other factor that may have been discouraging to the BC players is the environment they were playing in. The game was essentially a home game for UMass. Literally, not a single student stood in the BC student section. This year’s basketball team has some very exciting talent and new faces that students absolutely need to be excited to see play, especially at one of the most storied basketball venues in the world. With the schedule of great matchups BC has on its schedule thanks to the strengthening of the ACC over the past few years, Conte ought to be rocking for the games to come.
All in all, there were a few positives to take away from the trip downtown. The Eagles won the battle on the glass by 9 boards, they shot the ball much better on jumpers and really created better chances for themselves outside of the paint than they did game 1 and they forced more turnovers in their second game, despite their tougher opponent. Also, all of the games throughout the day were filled with little halftime challenges or fund raisers for advancing cancer research, making any fan walk away feeling as if the experience was money well spent.
Overall, hopefully the Eagles build on their positives and are able to shoot the ball much like they did in the first half of this game going into their next showdown against New Mexico.
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