Photo courtesy of Boston College Men's Basketball / Twitter

Men's Basketball Falls in Nail-Biter at Notre Dame

In a heartbreaking defeat, BC’s men’s basketball fell to Notre Dame 69 to 66 in South Bend last Saturday. It was the Eagles’ 11th straight loss to the Fighting Irish.

The game was a hard fought battle. Though Notre Dame built a lead early in the second half, BC never let the game get out of hand and remained within striking distance. Both teams were shorthanded, hampered by injuries. BC was missing forward Steffon Mitchell, and Notre Dame went with a six-man rotation after a couple of late scratches.

With 8:18 left in the second half, Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin laid up a basket after an offensive rebound to give ND an 11 point lead over the Eagles. BC’s head coach, Jim Christian, called a timeout. Though the Irish had controlled the floor for the entire second half up to that point, the Eagles ramped up their intensity and swayed the game back in their favor.

Boston College went on a 19-7 run to give them the lead with 15 seconds remaining. Unlike the rest of the game, the Eagles' run was defined by hustle, great rebounding, and shots finally starting to drop.

Big man Nik Popovic came up with two blocks in the final 20 seconds of the game. One led to the Ky Bowman go-ahead-basket, and the other one denied a potentially game winning shot. Unfortunately, as Popovic attempted to secure the rebound, he stumbled on his way down and was called for a traveling violation, giving Notre Dame possession with just eight seconds left in the game.

The Eagles' defense didn’t allow an open shot, but ND guard Prentiss Hubb found a lane. In a controversial call that could’ve gone either way, BC guard Wynston Tabbs was called for a blocking foul when Hubb went up for a shot with under three seconds on the clock, putting him at the free throw line for two shots. While Hubb has only shot 62% from the line on the season, he managed to make both to give the Fighting Irish the lead.

BC had just two seconds on the clock in their final possession. ND’s Goodwin managed to come up with the steal on a poorly designed inbound play, effectively ending the game.

The loss was a gut-wrenching one for BC basketball. They had a chance to win their first ACC conference game for the year, but just as quickly as they got the lead, it was taken from them.

BC’s defense played relatively well all day, despite missing Steffon Mitchell; ND struggled to get many clean shots. As a team, ND shot only 34.4% from the field and 27% from three. Unfortunately, foul troubles were a big issue for the Eagles. For the game, Notre Dame made 20 of 23 free throws, while BC only had 8 of 10.

Another bright spot for BC was Ky Bowman, per usual. He shot 8 of 17 from the field, 4 of 7 from three, and ended the day with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Popovic was also effective on the day, notching a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Outside of these two, however, there weren’t many bright spots for the Eagles. Despite playing on the road, this was a winnable conference game for BC.

BC is now 0-3 in ACC play. From here on out, the conference schedule is only going to get harder. The Eagles will have to prove that they can win games in the ACC if they want fans to believe they have a chance to get to the NCAA tournament in March.

The Eagles will face an even bigger challenge on Wednesday as they travel to take on the Louisville Cardinals, who just dominated North Carolina on the road.

BC will return to Conte Forum next Sunday to take on Florida State at noon.

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Born in Argentina, from Florida, but I love all things Boston (except the Patriots).