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MEN'S BASKETBALL: BC Overcomes Defensive Lapses In Win

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 03:02


Despite salvaging a 66-63 victory last night against Wake Forest, the Boston College men’s basketball team had to first survive a 40-minute marathon of highs and lows on both sides of the ball. As head coach Steve Donahue admitted, the Eagles’ third conference victory of the season was not without growing pains. 

“Some of our better players didn’t play well tonight,” Donahue said, “especially defensively. Other guys stepped up and did little things to get us over the hump.”

Defensive Lapses Nearly Cost BC the Game

After a gutsy performance on Sunday in which it held Duke’s top-ranked offense to just 62 points, the Eagle defense suffered from inconsistencies against a far less prolific Demon Deacon squad. BC squandered an early 17-6 advantage after giving Wake Forest too much freedom around the perimeter, as the visiting team took off on an 18-6 run of its own and shot 55 percent from behind the arc in the first frame.

The Eagles’ main nemesis on the night was Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris, who netted a game-high 23 points off of 8-of-10 shooting from the field. His quickness off the screen led to free looks at the net that a sluggish BC defensive unit had difficulty keeping up with. Had the Eagles not rallied in the final minute of play, Harris’ explosive drive to the net past a swarm of Eagle defenders with under two minutes left could’ve been considered the game’s final dagger.

“I think in particular what we had problems with tonight was C.J. Harris on the ball screen,” Donahue said. “He gives us fits, he’s given me fits now. I think we’ve played him six times since I’ve been here, and I think he’s such a good scorer. We were trying to trap it and were late on the screen. He’s crafty, he’s good with both hands. I think that was really the problem.”

Heckmann Ignites the Eagle Offense

Yet the Eagles were able to respond to their defensive woes by making the most of their opportunities with the ball. A particular standout in this area was forward Patrick Heckmann, who made the most of his start. After catalyzing the game’s scoring with a quick cut to the net that resulted in a layup, the sophomore played arguably one of his best offensive games of the season. Heckmann posted a total  of 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a few impressive drives to the basket that showed another dimension to his game beyond solid play around the perimeter. After tonight’s performance, Donahue realizes that a confident Heckmann can be both a sizeable and prolific asset on a young team in need of depth.

“Patrick goes in there and gets us off to a pretty good start, and then stays and plays well the rest of the game,” Donahue said. “We need Patrick to continue to play with confidence. He’s another guy who’s a good offensive player, he’s a good size, and we got to get him back playing well for us to get there. Especially in a game like tonight, I just felt like we were in a rut, weren’t moving the ball as well as I’d like. I think you need another player like him to step up.”

Clifford’s Knees Limit Him to Cameo Appearance

Despite starting for the second straight game, BC big man and captain Dennis Clifford once again saw his minutes on the court limited by a chronic knee condition that has plagued him all year long. Clifford saw just 12 minutes of playing time the entire game after contributing 18 against Duke. Though the Eagles might have benefited from the presence Clifford provides down low when healthy, Donahue was reluctant to jeopardize his center’s health and future.

“It seemed like it was a hard game for [Clifford] to play, and then I worried about him stiffening up,” he said. “He was trying to do the bike if you saw him there. I just didn’t feel comfortable putting him in again. It’s day by day.

“Honestly, I think the progress is going to come after the season when we shut him down for maybe a couple months and figure out what’s going on with his knee. It’s a condition he’s had for a while. It didn’t act up for a while—it did in high school a little bit and got better. Now we’ve got to get him better so he has two more great years of his career and he doesn’t have to go through this.”

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