Clifford Explodes as Eagles Defeat Maine

The Boston College men’s basketball team entered Conte Forum in the midst of a six-game home stand, coming off undoubtedly its biggest win of the season against Providence. After 40 minutes of basketball, the Eagles were able to ride that momentum to an 85-74 win.

While 11 points seems like a large margin of victory, this game had no business being that close. Maine entered the contest with one win and seven losses. This season, on average, Maine has gotten outscored by more than 17 points a game and has gotten out-rebounded by over six boards each game. Last night, however, the Black Bears won the battle on the glass—something that clearly should not happen for a BC team that is one of the tallest in the nation.

Kristen Morse/ Gavel Media.

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Coach Christian described this contest perfectly after the game, saying it was the team's “Best offensive performance and worst defensive [performance].” This was pretty obvious the entire night. The Eagles struggled on defense with recognizing on-ball screens, when to hedge and when to switch. They fouled three-point shooters on two separate occasions. Closeouts on jump-shooters were either way too aggressive or totally nonexistent, and they allowed a team that on average shoots 42% from the floor and 27% from range, to shoot 50% and 41%, respectively. Christian said that as a whole, the team “needs more defensive energy,” but defended the poor performance against a team with a bad record, saying that “there are no bad teams.”

The other end of the floor, however, was a totally different story. On the offensive end, the Eagles put up a season-high 85 points, while star scorer Olivier Hanlan only put up 10. Scoring last night was truly a team effort, but was anchored by big man Dennis Clifford. This was a fantastic sight to see, as Clifford himself said that he had “struggled offensively” and that he—up to this point—had had a lot of trouble positioning himself and calling for the ball. Clifford had no trouble with that against the Black Bears, as he shot five of six from the floor and nine of 11 from the strip to give him a season-high 19 points on the night. Clifford also grabbed seven rebounds, sent back  three shots, and had a couple of good steals.

He wasn’t without help though. Aaron Brown poured in 21, Patrick Heckmann had 13 points and a very nice all-around game, Hanlan had his 10 points and six assists, and Dimitri Batten had another terrific night. Batten finished with 12 points and only missed one shot all night—not to mention his four assists.

Kristen Morse/ Gavel Media.

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

On the offensive end, the team as a whole epitomized efficiency. It attacked the rim and had 43 of its 85 points from in the paint. The team scored 30 points off of 17 Maine turnovers. It put back 14 points on second chance opportunities, despite being out-rebounded. Most impressively, though, a team that had struggled to this point with protecting the ball and having clean possessions only had seven turnovers. Combine that with its 16 assists, and we see that this was some of the prettiest offense the Eagles have run in a long time.

The Eagles' win last night has pushed them to 5-3, and has them on a three-game winning streak. Already, this team is on pace to be a great improvement from last year, and should be competitive in every contest. The Eagles' next matchup is on Sunday at 1:00 pm at Conte against Binghamton, which sounds like the perfect study break for all you SuperFans stressing about finals and who need some time to relax. The men's basketball team will need all the support possible as it looks to continue its winning streak over these next three home games in December and ultimately carry momentum into its grueling ACC schedule.

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Unhealthy relationship with BC sports. Just a guy writing down the things he would usually yell at the TV.