MEN'S BASKETBALL: Wolfpack Overpowers Eagles Inside
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 00:02
For nine minutes, the Boston College men’s basketball team showed that a road environment wouldn’t affect its ability to execute. Trailing North Carolina State 22-6 midway through the first half, it looked like the Eagles were once again going to get outplayed on an opponent’s home floor. Then, sophomore center Dennis Clifford finished a dunk and guard Lonnie Jackson erupted for nine points, all from behind the line, to cut the Wolfpack lead down to six points before the half ended.
BC couldn’t carry that momentum into the second half, however, as NC State pulled away to an 82-64 win, shooting 64 percent in the final frame compared to the Eagles’ 38 percent. The victory marked the fifth-straight for the Wolfpack over BC. The Eagles were dominated by NC State’s size, allowing 46 points in the paint while managing only 22 themselves.
State’s C.J. Leslie, T.J. Warren, and Rodney Purvis had no trouble finding scoring lanes through the BC defense. The perimeter defenders for the Eagles struggled to contain Purvis and Lorenzo Brown off the dribble, and Brown and Warren found easy looks either from post-ups or off the Wolfpack’s 14 offensive rebounds.
The game looked like it was over early when the Eagles couldn’t get anything going on offense and continued to fumble the ball over to NC State, especially sophomore forward Ryan Anderson who saw hard double-teams every time he caught the ball down low. It resembled BC’s outing on Sunday afternoon at Duke, when the offense stalled due to tight pressure and the defense couldn’t protect the rim in a 21-point defeat. With the loss, the Eagles dropped to 1-7 on the road in conference play this season.
Jackson’s sharp shooting and a strong defensive effort down the stretch brought the game back within reach, though, before the first half ended. 11 of Jackson’s 16 points came in the first half as he sparked BC’s comeback off the bench, but he went cold in the second half, not scoring in the final 15 minutes.
BC cut the Wolfpack lead to 39-34 after two Jackson free throws early in the second half, but that’s as close as the game would get from that point on. NC State turned the defensive intensity back up and the Eagles struggled to hold on to the ball and make good decisions on offense. On one end of the floor, State found easy looks either around the rim or behind the arc with quick ball movement and hard dribbles into the paint, and on the other end of the floor BC continued to struggle to find gaps in the Wolfpack defense.
The frustration peaked for BC when Anderson turned to an official and complained about a foul call midway through the second half, drawing a technical for the complaint with NC State up by 10. The Wolfpack then went on a 16-6 run that put the game out of reach.
Warren, a standout freshman forward, helped the Wolfpack capture the victory by posting 13 points and six rebounds in the second half.
Warren has been in the conversation for the rookie of the year race with BC’s freshman point guard Olivier Hanlan and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon.
Sulaimon had 27 points against the Eagles on Sunday, while Hanlan could not create for his team like he had previously against both squads at home. He finished with 12 points, shooting 5-for-11 from the field, but the BC offense, which usually relies on his penetration to get started, stalled as the Wolfpack guards kept him in front for most of the game.
Fellow freshman guard Joe Rahon logged 36 minutes for the Eagles, but like the rest of his teammates, also could not find success against NC State’s length and athleticism, shooting 28 percent.
The Eagles stand pat at 11th in the ACC with three games to go until the conference tournament beings two weeks from now. They will face both Clemson and Georgia Tech, both of which sit atop BC in the standings.