On Tuesday night, Boston College men's basketball opened up its season at home against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers in a game that was truly a story of two halves. After dominating the first half and going into the break with a 10-point lead, Milwaukee was unable to hold on as the Eagles came roaring back for a 73-53 victory.
Milwaukee was clicking on all cylinders from the tip-off. The Eagles scored on their first possession off a Nik Popovic put-back, but Milwaukee took the lead and held onto it for the rest of the half. Milwaukee’s first half dominance stemmed from their shooting, as they drained corner threes on each of their first two shots.
For BC, it was quite the opposite. While Milwaukee shot 6-10 from behind the arc, Boston College went 1-10, including an embarrassing 0-7 from three of their key players—Ky Bowman, Steffon Mitchell, and Jordan Chatman. While they were strong on the boards, as shown by the six offensive rebounds in the half, they were unable to capitalize on these opportunities, putting up only five second-chance points.
Going into halftime, BC seemed to finally be gaining some momentum, narrowing the gap from 14 to eight. Yet, Milwaukee's Darius Roy nailed a midrange fade-away as time expired, giving the Panthers a 10-point advantage heading into the locker rooms. Despite the relatively meager difference in Milwaukee's lead, the timing of the shot seemed to completely shift the momentum of the game and take away the crowd’s energy.
Going into the locker room down 10 and shooting 28.5% from the field, this was clearly not the start the Eagles had anticipated. However, Head Coach Jim Christian never lost confidence in his team, urging them, “Settle down, do what we do. We got to get some stops so we can get out on transition.”
That is exactly what BC did in the second half. Led by Ky Bowman and freshman Wynston Tabbs, the entire team came out completely revitalized. After allowing Milwaukee to open the half with yet another deep three, BC took control. Over the next seven minutes and change, BC went on a 19-2 scoring rampage during which Milwaukee shot 1-11 from the field. Christian credited Bowman for his leadership contributions leading up to this. He noted that Bowman told his teammates to keep shooting even though their shots were not falling in the first half, which then opened up scoring lanes. This allowed the Eagles’ offense to explode for 46 second-half points, including 15 from Bowman and 11 from Tabbs.
BC’s defense fed off their offensive success, particularly on the perimeter. The Eagles managed to hold the Panthers to 16 points in the second half in which they shot just 2-17 from the three-point range. Even from inside the arc, they only shot 14% on two-point field goals. While the focus of the second half's defensive effort was on the perimeter, the fast-break and interior defense was equally tenacious, exemplified by Ky Bowman’s vicious chase-down block on Milwaukee’s Carson Warren-Newsome, which appeared to take away any remaining shred of confidence for the Panthers.
The Eagles will look to build on this victory on Sunday afternoon against St. Francis College Brooklyn. After a strong showing by the freshman class in the opener, the Eagles will likely look to continue giving a number of minutes to their new players, Wynston Tabbs, Jairius Hamilton, and Chris Herren Jr.
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