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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Eagles Downed By Terps

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 22:01

Looking to avenge last week’s nail-biting loss at home to Miami, the Boston College men’s basketball team looked to steal a victory on the road against ACC rival Maryland. The Eagles took the court Tuesday night having lost four conference matchups by a combined nine points, in need of flawless play down the stretch to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Yet head coach Steve Donahue’s squad was unable to take the late-game stand necessary to secure a win, and fell to the Terrapins by a final score of 64-59. Each of the Eagles’ four conference losses have now been by five points or fewer.

“Whereas in the last couple games I think we did everything well except foul shots, this game on offense, our spacing wasn’t good, shot selection wasn’t good, our execution wasn’t good.,” Donahue said. “We’ve got to do that well late in the game if we’re going to win on the road.”

The matchup began as a back-and-forth battle despite the Eagles’ cold shooting, as they posted a lackluster 3-for-18 mark from the field to start the half. Though Maryland dominated around the rim with 12 points in the paint and 7 second-chance points, BC responded by drilling six of its last 10 shots in the first frame. Coming off his third selection as ACC Rookie of the Week, freshman guard Olivier Hanlan continued his impressive stretch of play by leading the Eagle charge with nine first-half points and four assists. He and his teammates made the most of seven Maryland turnovers to transform a slow start into a 29-29 tie heading into the locker room at halftime. 

“Obviously we weren’t making shots and I thought we got good looks, but at the same time I though we defended very well which enabled us to stay in the game, and then I think we make five or six out of our last eight at the half,” Donahue said. “I thought we were playing good basketball.”

As the second half took shape, both teams continued to match each other point for point thanks to a resurgent Eagle attack on offense. Neither team could amass more than a one-possession lead on its opponent until well past the 10-minute mark in regulation. Catalyzed by a timely 3-pointer from freshman Jake Layman, Maryland took off on a 12-1 run that stretched their lead to eight points and left the Eagles with an uphill climb they would never surmount.

The Eagles managed to bring the Terrapin lead down to 49-42 off a lay-up from Ryan Anderson, part of his team-high 19 points on the night, and another drilled 3-pointer from Patrick Heckmann. After Maryland regained a seven point lead late in the quarter, Donahue’s squad made one last try at a dramatic comeback when Heckmann drained another triple, cutting the deficit to three points with under five seconds to play. Yet it proved to be too little too late for a BC team that once again saw its chances for victory slip away in the final minutes, as Maryland converted on two attempts from the line to send the Eagles packing with their fourth loss in five conference games.

Ultimately, the Eagles’ fate was sealed by their inability to counter Maryland’s execution around the net at the defensive end or answer with high-percentage points of their own. The Terrapins outscored BC by a wide margin of 34-12 in the paint, forcing the Eagles to compensate by recording 28 shots from the arc. On a night when BC shot just 32 percent from three-point range, depending on long-range accuracy to stay in the game was not an answer. As the Eagles try to keep pace while getting limited minutes from big man Dennis Clifford, who posted one point in 19 minutes of play against Maryland, they will need to seek a more balanced attack on the offensive end without so much reliance on the three-ball. 

“There’s definitely things we can improve on, and the guys are all trying to do their best about playing another game and getting back on the winning trail,” Donahue said. “I think we’re really close to being a good basketball team. I think a couple guys can play better, and I think we can execute better on both sides. Hopefully we get a 40-minute game, and let that snowball into really good things down the road.”

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