Boston College men's basketball continued its slide Saturday afternoon, dropping its seventh consecutive game in a 90-67 loss to the University of Louisville.
Head coach Jim Christian’s club came into the contest with reason for optimism. The Eagles have fought their last three opponents in very close battles. Unfortunately, Louisville is a different animal.
The Cardinals entered the game as the No. 6 team in the nation, and they pride themselves on their play in the defensive end. Louisville ranks 13th in the nation in points allowed per game at 62.1.
Ky Bowman led the way for BC with 18 points. BC’s usual leader, Jerome Robinson, put up 13 points, despite really struggling with his jump shot. Christian explained that Robinson’s struggles and decreased minutes in the second half could be attributed to sickness—he was said to have been vomiting in the locker room during half time.
For the second game in a row, Jordan Chatman started in place of AJ Turner. Chatman finished with 10, but was largely on a non-factor, going entirely scoreless in the first half. Predominantly a three-point shooter, Chatman struggled to get looks he liked against a Cardinal defense that boasts a staggering 28.3 three-point percentage allowed, the best mark in the conference.
As a unit, BC struggled to connect from long range. Chatman finished 2-5, Turner was 1-3, and Robinson did not connect on any of his five attempts. Turner’s struggles continue to be a shocking development in the second half of the season. Through BC’s first 20 games, Turner seemed to have found a role as a knock-down catch-and-shoot player, with the decision-making ability and vision to help set up his teammates if his own shot wasn’t open.
The second half for Turner has been entirely different. The sophomore wing finished with just 5 points on Saturday. His misses included a couple of uncontested shots from beyond the arc and a blocked dunk in transition.
After the blowout loss, Christian said the result was eye-opening for his team. “We learned how hard you have to play to beat a good team,” said Christian. The third year coach was emphatic that this loss was an effort loss. “The reason that any team is good at guarding the three is they play harder. You have to sprint to shooters, it’s not a defense design to take away three point shots. You play harder,” said Christian of Louisville’s perimeter defense.
Christian made an interesting choice going to Ervins Meznieks off the bench, who hasn’t received many minutes this season after playing consistently last year. Meznieks played respectably in his limited time.
Even without starting point guard Quentin Snider, Louisville encountered no problems scoring against BC’s defense. Leading scorer Donovan Mitchell led the way for the Cardinals with 19 points. Pitino’s group didn’t look like a team missing their primary ball handler in the slightest, as they only turned the ball over nine times.
“They’ve played almost everybody tough,” said Louisville’s hall of fame coach on BC’s young group. He continued, “They are getting the most out of their talent. They run things that are hard to defend.” Pitino went on to praise how BC is building their program the right way, but to win in the beast that is the ACC takes time because you have to get the talent that the other teams in the league roll out year to year.
While it’s encouraging to hear praise about the direction of the program from one of the faces of college basketball, some more wins to validate the progress of the program would be even better.
The Eagles' next contest will take place Wednesday night against Pitt, as the two programs battle to stay out of the cellar of the ACC.