Top Story, Men's Basketball

BC’s Thrilling Comeback Falls Short in Miami

Ky Bowman stood at the free throw line. He went through his motions calmly. He shot. Swish.

He went through his motions again. He shot again.

And he missed.

Boston College men’s basketball was now down 76-74 with five seconds to go in the game. Bruce Brown secured the rebound. A.J. Turner fouled him. Brown sank both free throws.

The Eagles were now down 78-74 with four seconds left.

BC inbounded the ball to Jerome Robinson. He took off up the court, pulled up before the 3-point arc, and drained a buzzer-beater trey.

Too little, too late.

At the conclusion of a roller-coaster game, Miami (barely) held on for a 78-77 victory over the Eagles. With the win, the Hurricanes (13-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) officially became 12-1 this season in games they led at halftime, and the Eagles (9-12, 2-6) dropped their fourth straight game.

It was a tale of two halves, with a slow, unexciting first half followed by a thrilling end to the game. In the first half, BC jumped out to an early lead thanks to Ky Bowman, who opened up scoring with a 3-pointer a mere 15 seconds into the game. But before long, Miami had tied the game, and then taken a 5-3 lead of its own. After this point, the Hurricanes led for the rest of the game, although BC clawed back from several significant deficits to almost tie the game.

For several minutes in the first half, the Eagles kept it close. But with just under 11 minutes to go in the half, Miami began to pull away for the first time. Robinson fed the ball to Nik Popovic, who went up hard in the paint to bring the score to 18-13, a manageable five-point deficit. From there, Miami had an offensive flurry to widen the gap, pushing the lead to 28-13 within a few minutes. The Eagles managed to somewhat cut into the deficit before halftime, entering the locker room trailing by eight points with the score at 30-22.

Although Miami has dominated this season in games it has led at the half, the second half opened with a promising run for BC. The Eagles relied on Bowman and Turner at the start of the half. Turner opened scoring for BC with an offensive rebound and a put-back. Seconds later, Bowman sank a three. All of a sudden, BC trailed by only five points, and the energy on the court began to change.

Over the next few minutes, the Eagles attempted to claw back and tie the game, but Miami stayed just out of reach. Mo Jeffers went 1-for-2 in one trip to the free throw line. Connar Tava went up hard for a layup and made it to bring the Eagles within six. Turner stole the ball and took it down the court for a statement dunk. But after each basket for the Eagles, the Hurricanes scored again—ensuring that BC could come within a handful of points, but never actually reach them.

BC’s fortunes changed for the worse with 12 minutes to go in the half. Miami’s Huell Dewan snagged the ball away from Jordan Chatman and took it down the court for a monster dunk. Seconds later, Robinson lost the ball to Kamari Murphy, who found teammate Bruce Brown down the court for a fast-break layup. From there, the Hurricanes built up a sizable lead, and it seemed as though the once-close competition would turn into a lopsided game that BC could not recover from. With just under nine minutes to go, the Eagles trailed 61-44.

But the Eagles had one last comeback attempt in them. It just wasn’t enough, in the end.

BC fought back to a 15 point deficit, then a 10-point deficit, then a five-point deficit. All of the momentum was going its way, and it got a few lucky breaks too. The lucky breaks culminated with nine seconds to go. After Robinson drained a 3-pointer to bring the Eagles within three, they desperately needed a steal to keep their hopes alive. And they got just that. With six seconds to go, Chatman snatched the ball away from Reed and BC had possession again. The ball ended up in the hands of Bowman. He was fouled. And he went 1-for-2 from the free throw line.

Bowman missed the free throw in the final seconds, but he wasn’t the only one to miss free throws on the day. BC converted on 10 of its 15 attempts—66.7 percent—and any one of those shots could’ve sent the game to overtime, while any two could’ve won the game for the Eagles. Miami, meanwhile, shot 75 percent from the line. Its accuracy from the charity stripe ended up being its salvation in the game.

It was almost a successful comeback for the Eagles. It was almost a victory on the enemy’s home court. But “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

With home victories against Syracuse and NC State, BC has shown it can compete against conference teams at Conte Forum. But the Miami loss represents just another in a long line of road conference losses for the Eagles. In fact, the last time BC won an ACC game on the road was March 2, 2015, against Virginia Tech. Until the Eagles can prove they can compete against conference teams on the road, they will find it hard to call themselves a legitimate threat in the ACC.

Featured Image by Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

January 26, 2017