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A Tough Pitt To Swallow

Asst. Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 03:02


Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Three years ago, Steve Donahue had a freshman cover one of the ACC’s best scorers. Boston College’s Gabe Moton battled Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney 1-on-1, as Donahue looked to breed one of his youngest on-ball defenders. Moton did not mark Delaney for the entire game, and the senior was able to put up 19 points, but when the guard was on the Hokie, it was a learning experience. Moton spent another year at BC, before transferring out.

For most of BC’s 66-59 defeat to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Garland Owens was tasked with guarding redshirt senior Lamar Patterson. Standing at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Patterson is a forward who can hang out on the arc to drain 3-pointers or take the game into the palms of his hands. Averaging his best season yet in terms of scoring, the Panther puts up 17.2 points per game.

BC plays a lot of help defense and everyone gets a possession or two against each opponent, but Owens was paired against the fifth year player more often than not, especially in the second half.

“I felt confident, because I knew I had my teammates behind me,” Owens said. “Playing help defense, they’re there to help along the wayside.”

Owens played a season high of 30 minutes on Wednesday evening, scoring seven points and wiping the glass three times. While he turned the ball over twice and still has much to learn, the freshman was able to show off his improvement. Defensively, Owens did well against one the ACC’s best teams. Patterson put up 16 points, but he also turned the ball over five times, one of which was a result of Owens stripping the redshirt senior in transition.

Whenever Owens guarded the forward on the perimeter, he would stand tall with his arms as high, or as outstretched as he could put them.

“Always be active, because he’s a good passer, so to just always have my hands active to shorten the passing lanes,” Owens said of his duties against Patterson.

The freshman has also become quicker. Known for his athleticism, Owens has developed his quickness working with the team’s trainer. He said that the extra work he has put in has helped to develop his quickness in transition when he switches from offense to defense.

On the other side of the ball, Owens can drive. He is quick to the rack and has excellent control over his body after he leaves his feet, which allows him to finish. Once his touch and confidence are built in the ACC, that aspect of Owens’ game will shine, as it did when he played in high school.

“I called his number tonight a couple of times so he could do it,” said Donahue. “I think he can rip through. He’s way quicker and better with the ball than he gives himself credit for. I want him to be aggressive, because when he attacks the rim— first of all, he can finish, but he also has a great feel for the game.”

The freshman forward is a gamebreaker who can explode to the hoop for a dunk or finish to an alley-oop. He can also use his athleticism to maneuver his way around the boards. He had three rebounds against the Panthers and was able to create chances for BC to get second chance points.

At one point, the Eagles were within shouting distance and down 53-47, and a missed shot from Ryan Anderson bounced off the rim. Owens cut under the basket to tip the ball back into play. Under the hoop, Anderson failed to pick the ball out, but the opportunity for another shot was there and the freshman was responsible for it.

One week ago, though, when the team was on top of the world, Owens was not. He played less than a minute in the Eagles’ shocking upset of the nation’s No. 1 team, Syracuse. Against Miami, the Eagles missed open looks and the ship began to sink once again. Owens saw just eight minutes on the floor in the team’s worst loss of the season.

Trailing Pittsburgh by 15 points with 5:24 remaining in the first half, everything was out of hand. Shots were not going down and Jamie Dixon’s travelling squad was trampling BC down low and in transition. Another late comeback spurred by Olivier Hanlan was not enough. Suffering their 21st defeat of the season, the Eagles watched the same movie again.

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