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Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01


Graham Beck / Heights Editor

Trying to snap a three-game losing streak and claim a conference victory on the road, the Boston College men’s basketball team visited the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon. Despite overcoming an early deficit and taking a lead into halftime, the Eagles suffered their 10th loss of the season by a score of 65-51.

‘‘Virginia is as good as anybody in the country making you play for 30 seconds, 35 seconds, and you’ve got to stay poised offensively and share the ball,’’ said Eagles coach Steve Donahue of his team’s inability to answer the Cavaliers offensive attack. “We just got out of synch on offense.”

The Cavaliers dominated the game’s tempo to open the initial frame, as they scored the game’s first eight points en route to a quick 16-5 lead. Yet Donahue’s Eagles displayed their signature ability to mount a quick comeback. Responding to Virginia’s own opening statement, BC took off on a run that featured a combined 12 unanswered points from guards Lonnie Jackson and Danny Rubin. Both Eagles worked to drain four consecutive 3-pointers. A dominant 15-2 Eagle run was finished off with a three-point play from forward Ryan Anderson, who contributed a team high 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field. When the smoke cleared heading into the half, BC found itself with a 26-24 lead.

Yet BC’s strong finish to the first 20 minutes and its tenuous lead were soon countered by another Cavalier run in which the home team scored 11 straight points. The Eagles tried to claw their way back onto the scoreboard when guard Joe Rahon answered Virginia’s run with a triple, but it did not deter his opponents from stretching their lead to 47-35 with just over eight minutes left in regulation.

From that point on, the Eagles were never able to draw any closer than 10 points away from the Cavalier’s lead. Virginia’s Akil Mitchell and Justin Anderson contributed 16 points apiece to thwart any Eagle hopes for a momentum-shifting comeback, as the Eagles suffered their fifth conference defeat in six games.

‘‘Overall, it was mostly about their defense,’’ Anderson said in reaction to his team’s loss. ‘‘They were taking away a lot of things that we like to do offensively. They were tougher than us.’’

After facing a Cavalier scoring defense that is ranked second in the nation, the Eagles have only averaged 55 points per game during its four-game skid. Yet Saturday’s debacle also provided further evidence of BC’s struggles around the rim, a consistent trend that has contributed to its recent losses. The Eagles were outscored 40-16 in the paint by the Cavaliers, marking the second time last week Donahue’s team was outscored by 22 points or more by an opponent down low.

Even with the loss, the Eagles have still lost five conference matchups by an average of only 5.6 points per game. Looking to find an answer around the rim and translate a string of close losses into an upset victory, BC will host Roy Williams’s UNC Tar Heels tomorrow night at Conte Forum.  

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