The game had trap written all over it: with 6-1 powerhouse Providence coming to town Friday, the Boston College men’s basketball team could have overlooked the visiting Marist and its weak 1-4 record. But after the first half of court time Monday, the Eagles appeared trapped, up by only five points against a team with an inferior record. It was only in the second half that BC pulled away from Marist, winning by a solid 18-point margin with a final score of 79-61.
The game was off to a shaky start, coming out of the first half with only a 41-36 lead. This spread even was deceiving, as Marist controlled the pace of the game for the better part of the half, spending significant time at BC’s free throw line. “Defensively, I thought the first half was probably was as poor as we’ve played,” said coach Jim Christian.
BC got into foul trouble early in the game, giving Marist frequent opportunities at the line. The Red Foxes made the Eagles pay, hitting an impressive 13 of their first 14 free throws. Additionally, Marist’s offense took advantage of the Eagle’s non-existent interior defense, constantly attacking the paint. The saving grace for BC’s floundering defensive end was the success of its full court press—which contributed to the eight Marist turnovers in the first half.
It was a game of disparate halves for BC, and its defense stepped up in the second. Marist shot a meager 40 percent from the field and turned the ball over another eight times following the break. Olivier Hanlan and Will Magarity led the resurgence with three steals apiece, helping to secure the Eagles’ lead with their aggressive defense.
Marist senior Chavaughn Lewis shot 8-15 from the field and an impressive 10-13 from line, providing some punch to the team’s otherwise lackluster offensive efforts. BC’s defense had trouble stopping Lewis throughout the night, giving him control of the game’s flow: in the second half, it seemed every Marist play resulted in a Lewis isolation. Lacking support in his offensive possessions, however, Lewis finished the game with six turnovers committed.
The Eagles controlled the offensive glass, ending the game with 15 offensive rebounds. The Eagle’s 18 second chance points help them dominate, particularly in the second half, with the Red Foxes only had two. Senior Patrick Heckmann led the way for the Eagles with four second chance points—consistently out-hustling his defenders and taking charge of the court.
Leading BC’s scoring efforts, graduate student transfers Aaron Brown and Dimitri Batten scored 19 and 17 points respectively, helping keep BC in the game for the first half even as its defense struggled. Batten had a hyper-efficient game, shooting a very impressive 6-7 from the field.
Hanlan had a career high of nine assists, capping off a record-breaking evening with an electrifying pass to Will Magarity underneath the basket. Although he only had nine points, Hanlan controlled the flow of the game. Along with his assists and steals, Hanlan added five rebounds, second only to Heckmann.
In the second half, BC spent significant time at the free throw line. The Eagles only shot 61.1 percent from there, however, failing to fully capitalize on the opportunities they created. Although inefficient from the field, BC hit 40 percent of its three-point shots—a strong improvement on its season average of 19.8 percent before the game. “We wanted to improve our three-point shooting, which we did tonight with good shots” said Christian.
These “good shots” came from great ball movement around Marist’s 2-3 zone, and mostly from Hanlan’s passing.
Monday was a pivotal win for the Eagles, their first of the year by a double digit margin. It pulled them back up to .500 after dropping two straight in Puerto Rico—reposturing BC as a serious competitor heading into a challenging ACC schedule. This game was particularly significant for Christian, who began at BC last semester: it was his first big-spread win as head coach, and the Eagles accomplished it even without a significant scoring effort from Hanlan.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff