Unlike previous games, the Eagles snatched a victory in a dramatic finish, 64-57.
It appears that 2014-2015 Boston College men’s basketball has a flair for the dramatic. Its past two contests were close losses, as the squad gave up multiple double-digit leads in an overtime loss to Pitt and mounted an unsuccessful comeback effort against Miami. “We had to win,” head coach Jim Christian said. “We had to get back into the winner’s circle. When you lose the way we lost the past two games it’s difficult because they’ve worked hard and they didn’t get any reward for it.”
In last night’s matchup against Harvard, however, BC decided to switch things up, and came away with a dramatic 64-57 overtime win. This victory was an important one for the Eagles—a win gives them some momentum as BC plunges back into ACC play. Additionally, it marked just the first time BC has beaten its cross-town rivals in the past seven years, and has brought the squad to eight wins on the season, matching last year’s total.
In its 14 games leading up to Harvard this season, BC had held a double-digit lead at some point in its contests 10 times. The amount of times that BC has won by more than 10 points? Just five. The easy conclusion is that this year BC has hard a hard time holding onto a lead, a formula that remained true against Harvard last night.
BC stormed out of the gate from the opening tip-off, playing defensive-minded basketball that led to a slew of fast break opportunities. Stripping the ball away in the opening possession, junior guard Olivier Hanlan found teammate Aaron Brown for the fast break lay-in for the game’s opening bucket. Brown was a major contributor to BC’s strong start, as he matched the Crimson’s scoring output with 10 points of his own that propelled BC to a 25-10 lead, its biggest of the night.
Brown’s efforts were aided by the likes of Patrick Heckmann, who pickpocketed a Harvard guard two minutes in and stormed down the middle of the court before kicking it out Brown for a wide open 3-pointer. Heckmann later came up with a big block on the defensive end and started the break the other way.
BC’s swarming defense contributed to 10 first half Crimson turnovers, five of which were committed by Harvard’s top scorer Wesley Saunders. Saunders struggled from the field all night, finishing four-of-19 from the field and just one-of-seven in the second half, though he was effective from the charity stripe, knocking down seven-of-eight en route to a 15-point performance. The Eagles headed into the locker room at halftime with a 30-19 lead.
“I thought the first half defensively was as well as we’ve played all year,” Christian said. “We did what we were trying to do. Our one-on-one defense was good, and our ball screen defense was very good. That’s a good offensive team, so to hold them at halftime to 19 points is a pretty good effort.”
As soon as the second half began, Harvard began the slowly crawl back, and the Eagles had to work hard to keep them in check.
“They made a pretty good run at us in the second half, and it was good to see guys not back down,” Hanlan, who led all scorers with 17 points, said. One of those guys who didn’t back down was junior center Dennis Clifford, who had a phenomenal game, collecting 10 boards and netting 13 points on his way to his first career double-double.
The two teams traded baskets, with Clifford netting a couple of hard-fought shots down the stretch, but going into the final two minutes of regulation, Harvard had taken a 47-45 lead. Crimson guard Siyani Chambers stared down Hanlan on consecutive possessions, ball tucked under his arm, letting the clock tick down. With about six seconds left on the shot clock, Chambers made his move, dishing the ball to forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who fumbled it and booted it out of bounds with 39 seconds remaining in the game.
Hanlan let the clock tick down, moved the ball around, and then gave it to Clifford. The big man found a cutting Heckmann, who then dished the ball to Brown. He finished at the rim, tying up the game with his first points of the second half at the game’s biggest moment. After Saunders missed a turnaround buzzer beater in the paint, the game headed to overtime tied at 47.
The two teams traded buckets to start the overtime period, with Hanlan showing off his touch on a floater. Batten, not to be outdone, laid in a smooth finger roll driving from the left side. It was Heckmann, however, who stole the show for the Eagles in overtime, scoring seven of BC’s final eight points.
With the Eagles nursing a two-point 56-54 lead with 46 seconds remaining, Heckmann hit a dagger from the corner to put BC up by five, then sealed the game with an authoritative dunk off the long ball from Hanlan, capping a dramatic victory.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor