Men's Basketball

Backcourt Carries Men’s Basketball to Victory at Hartford

About a minute into Boston College men’s basketball’s Saturday night game at Hartford, Jerome Robinson dished a pass inside to Nik Popovic, and the 6-foot-11 sophomore laid it in. But over the course of the next four minutes, nothing came that easy. In fact, the Eagles didn’t even score. BC’s starting five missed shot after shot, allowing Hartford to build an early 10-point lead. The Eagles looked out of sorts, and were clearly missing graduate transfer Teddy Hawkins.

BC was saved by a media timeout—one that gave the team, namely Ky Bowman and Robinson, time to regroup. The extra minute or so paid huge dividends. Immediately after the break, the two guards single-handedly cut BC’s deficit to five, a sign of things to come. Much like last season, Bowman and Robinson carried the Eagles to the finish line.

For the first time all year, they both scored 20 or more points in one game. And when all was said and done, the backcourt duo combined for 44 total points. Bowman and Robinson’s athleticism proved to be too much for even John Carroll and a stingy Hartford team to overcome, as the Eagles pulled out a 73-61 victory.

Right from the get-go, the Hawks (3-6) tried to outshoot BC (6-3), just like pretty much every other non-conference opponent the Eagles have faced this season. And, once again, BC’s poor perimeter defense was exposed. Carroll and Travis Weatherington teamed up to knock down three-consecutive shots from beyond the arc to put Hartford up seven in the early going. A couple more Hawks free throws, and Hartford already had a double-digit lead.

That’s when Bowman and Robinson flipped the switch.

The two guards brought the Eagles back from the dead by attacking the paint. In no time, head coach Jim Christian’s team was within striking distance. Popovic gave his backcourt a breather, netting a mid-range jumper from the right block, and then, backing down in the post for two more on the next possession. To cap off the 14-5 run, Jordan Chatman flew down the court, elevated, and finished at the rim. After starting the game 3-of-6 from the field, Hartford had gone completely cold, missing eight of its next 10 shots.

Meanwhile, Bowman, red hair and all, couldn’t have been hotter. The sophomore hit his first 3-pointer of the game, continuing BC’s scoring spree and reclaiming the lead for the first time since the opening minute of play.

Now trailing, Hartford needed someone to step up before the game got out of hand. That someone was J.R. Lynch. The 5-foot-10 guard sunk three shots from deep in the span of three and half minutes to keep the Hawks’ upset hopes alive. But for every 3-pointer that Lynch made, either Bowman, Robinson, or Chatman had an answer—the biggest of which was Chatman’s triple from the right wing that slid the Eagles in front of Hartford, 31-30, seconds before the half.

Bowman came out of the break firing. The former All-ACC Freshman scored six of BC’s first 10 second-half points, getting two high-arcing 3-pointers to fall, thanks to a few favorable bounces. Yet, even though the Eagles were finally clicking offensively, their defense still had no means of stopping the Hawks’ air raid. Having converted six 3-point attempts in the first half, Hartford kept jacking up shots from downtown in the latter portion of play, and it worked.

Jason Dunne and Weatherington netted a pair of shots from 3-point land, not to mention that the Hawks’ leading scorer, Carroll, came to life. Just when Lynch took a backseat, the 6-foot-8 forward, who posted seven points in the first half, stepped up his game.

Despite being undersized, Carroll managed to slip underneath and make a home for himself in the interior. That being said, the junior wasn’t afraid to step outside and shoot from long range. During a five-minute segment of the second half, Carroll scored nine of the Hawks’ 11 points, drawing within one point of the Eagles’ 50-49 lead. All the while, BC’s core four—Bowman, Robinson, Chatman, and Popovic—shouldered the offensive workload, fending off Carroll and Hartford.

In the process, Robinson became the 42nd Eagle to score 1,000-plus points. But he didn’t stop there. The junior ended up logging 13 second-half points, and working with Bowman to help BC pull away from the Hawks.

First, they each drilled a 3-pointer. Then, Bowman dialed up an alley-oop pass to Robinson, who slammed it home at the rim. Soon after, Bowman used a hesitation move to get by Lynch for another two points inside. The sophomore added one more layup to his stat sheet, stretching BC’s lead to eight with a minute and a half to go.

Hartford extended the game by repeatedly fouling the Eagles, desperate to claw its way back into the game. But Chatman and Robinson were perfect at the line, putting the game to bed.

Although this matchup didn’t go down to the wire like last year’s, it was much closer than Christian probably would have liked. BC’s 15 turnovers and occasional lack of communication on the offensive end were concerning to say the least. Without Hawkins, it appears as if the Eagles are emblematic of last year’s team—a group heavily dependent on the play of its NBA prospects, Bowman and Robinson.

Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff

December 2, 2017