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MEN'S BASKETBALL: BC Drops Another Nail-Biter To Miami

Controversial foul call and one missed free throw lead to Eagle loss at home

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 02:01

Hanlan

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

Continuing a trend of last-minute thrillers against ACC rivals, the Boston College men’s basketball team battled the Miami Hurricanes until the last half-second of regulation last night at Conte Forum. Yet, a controversial foul call, countless lead changes, and their opponent’s size advantage were too much for the Eagles to overcome in a 60-59 loss.

“I’m very proud of our effort,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “We competed, defended, executed pretty much on offense against a very good defensive team, and just came up short at the end.”

The Eagles were immediately challenged by Miami’s looming presence around the net, as the Hurricane’s Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble forced defensive mismatches early on. Donahue’s squad countered with its trademark strengths—speed and athleticism. Timely shooting from forward Ryan Anderson and hustle down the court, capitulating in a highlight-reel block from sophomore Eddie Odio on the fastbreak, allowed underdog BC to go into halftime with a 28-26 lead.

“I thought our transition baskets were really efficient,” Donahue said. “I thought we pushed it when we got stops, but it’s much harder—it’s easier to slow a team down than to speed them up. They’ve got really good size all over, so I thought we moved them, got the ball reversed, attacked, shared it, didn’t shoot it great but shot it okay, and I thought we did enough to win. It’s just a tough one to swallow.”

Yet a stop-and-go first half defined by BC’s ability to capitalize on Miami’s five turnovers and poor foul shooting gave way to a high-tempo second frame, beginning with an impressive 3-point play from guard Olivier Hanlan. Though Miami fought back with a threatening 10-0 scoring run, a Donahue timeout prompted BC to make a run of its own. Led by 3-pointers from Patrick Heckmann and Lonnie Jackson, the Eagles scored 11 straight points to amass a 42-36 lead around the middle of the second half.

If the Eagles last couple of losses were any indication, however, any lead could be jeopardized in a game’s closing minutes—and last night was no exception. After a 14-6 run, Miami regained the lead with less than two minutes to play, and converted at the free-throw line to extend its advantage to 58-57.

The Eagles’ ensuing possession marked a grim turning point in the second half. After receiving an inbound pass with the shot clock turned off, guard Joe Rahon looked to create space between he and Miami defender Duran Scott. Although Rahon’s elbow appeared to create limited contact with Scott’s face, the refs blew the whistle and charged Rahon with a crucial offensive foul that spoiled what was supposed to be BC’s final possession.

“The guy pressured me,” recalled Rahon, who committed the foul after battling back from an apparent ankle injury in the first half. “I had to pop out a little bit farther than I would’ve liked to. I caught it with him on my back, and I tried to pivot to clear space and I guess my shoulder hit him in the chin or something, and the ref saw that as me clearing space, with my elbows, and he blew a foul. I’ll need to see the tape to see if it was that blatant, but in my mind, I was just trying to clear some space to move and turn the ball.”

Yet, the Eagles were granted a chance for redemption, and reclaimed possession with 10.6 seconds left. In an off-balanced, heavily contested attempt at a 3-pointer, Hanlan was fouled in the act of shooting with half of a second remaining on the clock. After knocking down the first two attempts, Hanlan’s third try in front of an anxious home crowd fell short, hitting the rim and dashing the Eagles’ hopes for an overtime victory.

“There’s not much you can do there,” Donahue said of Hanlan’s missed opportunity. “It’s as difficult a situation you can put someone in. The game’s riding on three made foul shots, not like you’re going to win, just got to tie. I’m just so proud of him and the attitude he’s had.”

Counting Wednesday night’s heartbreaker, the Eagles have lost three conference matchups by a combined nine points. Excruciating losses in the final seconds of play might test the perseverance of a young team like BC, but Donahue is determined to roll with the punches on the path toward building a dominant program.

“I think in all three of them, foul shooting has been an issue,” Donahue said. “Execution, not necessarily our last possession, but maybe the last two minutes of the game we just haven’t been as sharp as we need to be. I think we’re very close. I think we’re competing, and honestly I told the team this, I’ve been coaching long enough that these things kind of even out. I’ve won games like this where…we’re lucky we got out of here. We’ll get these with this group.” n
 

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