MEN'S BASKETBALL: Hanlan's 26 Points Leads Eagles Past Terps
Future Lottery-Pick Alex Len Held To Four Points Against BC
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 23:02
After Tuesday night’s thrilling victory over Maryland, the Boston College men’s basketball team took away a vital lesson—success is not necessarily defined by quick starts, but rather strong finishes.
“I think we got some fortunate timing as well,” said head coach Steve Donahue, “but we took advantage of it.”
A dominant offensive performance by Olivier Hanlan led the Eagles through early ineffectiveness and toward a 69-58 home win over the same Terrapin squad that knocked off Duke last weekend. The freshman standout contributed a career-high 26 points after drilling nine of his 14 shots from the field.
“His confidence brings everybody else up as well,” Donahue said of his young point guard. “It’s not just him out there, we all trust him. You believe in what he does.”
Yet neither BC nor its formidable opponent came storming out of the gate, as both teams combined for a mere total of four points off of 2-of-15 shooting over the matchup’s first five minutes. Offense was particularly hard to come by for the Eagles, who tallied a field goal percentage of just over 34 percent for the half while missing nine of its 11 three-point opportunities.
Though BC was able to scratch out enough production to stay even with the Terrapins for much of the half, dominant outside shooting from Maryland’s Logan Aronhalt resulted in a trio of 3-pointers in under a minute. Before BC’s defense could find an answer to its opponent’s outside attack, the half closed with the Terrapins on top by seven.
The second frame, however, would soon prove to be one of BC’s most complete efforts of the season. Hanlan catalyzed the Eagles’ offense by drilling a three from the corner to start the half, leading to a 17-5 run that put the home team ahead by five points with 10 minutes to play. A BC offense that appeared stagnant during the first 20 minutes started to click at an opportune time, as the Eagles benefited from two Hanlan drives to the net and triples from Joe Rahon and Lonnie Jackson. Continuing to form a presence around the rim, forward Eddie Odio contributed a timely put-back after battling for an offensive board against Maryland’s looming presence down low.
Despite BC’s rally, a Terrapin offense that picked Duke’s defense apart for 83 points on Saturday refused to go down silently. Propelled by a 3-pointer from Massachusetts native Jake Layman and a relentless and-one drive by Dez Wells, Maryland claimed nine of the next 12 points on the scoreboard to take back a one-point lead at 50-49.
Yet the Eagles took command of the floor by turning an Achilles heel into an asset—execution from the free-throw line. Donahue’s squad drilled 21 of 22 foul shot attempts in what was BC’s best performance from the charity stripe since 2004. Jackson and Odio sparked the Eagles’ run from the line by knocking down two pairs to give BC an advantage it never relinquished.
“We’re a very good foul shooting team,” Donahue said, “but the first five games of the ACC schedule, I think we got to the line more than anybody in the league and we missed 50 foul shots in five games. Four of them could have been pretty easy wins and now what would we be talking about?”
Though the Eagles’ execution from the line was crucial, it shared the late-game stage with what was arguably the best half of Olivier Hanlan’s career. During a 20-minute span, Hanlan notched 19 points and contributed nine points—including all three field goals—to BC’s second 17-5 run of the night. Hanlan fittingly supplied the game-clinching dagger in the heart of the Terrapins’ comeback attempt—a turnaround bucket that put the Eagles up by nine with just over a minute to play.
“Every time it was tough, I thought he got himself squared at the last second and got a really good look,” Donahue said of Hanlan’s composure while shooting from the field. “The game was really going slow for him.”
Hanlan provided the flare on offense for BC, but the Eagles were also propelled by Odio’s electric play on both sides of the ball. The dynamic sophomore brought Conte to its feet once again with an impressive eight-point effort off the bench that included a dunk over Maryland’s defense late in the first half. Eleven Odio boards also contributed to the Eagles’ victory on the glass against a Maryland team ranked fourth in the country in rebounding.
Nevertheless, his successful silencing of Maryland’s big man Alex Len was perhaps the biggest factor in BC’s win, as Odio managed to hold the seven-foot-one center to only four points while making a late-game rejection despite the six-inch height disparity. Odio’s late-game stuff of Len, which drew thunderous chants of the Eagle forward’s last name from the Conte faithful, was part of a six-block effort.
For the Eagles, Tuesday night’s game was marked by strong individual performances. Yet the squad’s successful job of closing out a big game through flawless foul shooting and relentless rebounding is a major turning point in BC’s overall maturation. To translate a perseverant effort into a statement win is a realization of what Donahue has seen all along as the inevitable.
“I think we’re playing good basketball,” Donahue said. “It’s close. We haven’t come in and just been not ready, like, ‘Where was that effort?’ We haven’t done that once this year. I thought we competed every night.” n