After getting off to slow starts in three of its past four games, Boston College men’s basketball stormed out of the gates on Saturday afternoon against Richmond. Jordan Chatman drilled four 3-pointers and tallied 16 points in the first 13 minutes of play, as the Eagles jumped out a 31-14 lead, well into the first half. It looked as if BC was going to run away its fifth-consecutive win.
That wasn’t the case.
Slowly but surely, the Eagles’ offense came back down to Earth, and Richmond took full advantage of the opportunity to cut into its deficit. Just like last year’s meeting, the Spiders rallied in the second half. Only this time, they couldn’t complete the comeback. Khwan Fore forced overtime with a game-tying layup, but a couple of timely Chatman and Ky Bowman 3-pointers put the game to rest. The 78-73 victory extends the Eagles’ longest winning streak since the 2012-13 season.
1) Jordan Chatman
Ever since Teddy Hawkins went down with a season-ending knee injury in BC’s (10-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Nebraska on Nov. 29, Chatman has played the best basketball of his career. Over the course of the past five games, the junior has averaged 20.2 points per game—the most of any BC player—and eclipsed the 20-point mark three times. He did it again on Saturday in just 27 and a half minutes of game time. The rest of the way, Chatman added to his total, matching his career high with 30 points.
Like he has all season, the former BYU transfer complemented his 3-point shot with dribble-drive penetration. At one point toward the end of regulation, Chatman caught a pass on the right wing, gave a little head fake, and proceeded to scoot by Richmond’s (2-10) De’Monte Buckingham. He cruised to the hoop for a layup, and would’ve finished at the rim had it not been for Grant Golden, who hacked him on the way up.
But the only reason why Chatman got Buckingham to bite so easily was because he had already hit five 3-pointers on the day—many of which he dialed up from that exact location. When all was said and done, Chatman was 7-of-10 from downtown. He hit a 3-pointer to reclaim the lead with under a minute to go in the second half, and another in overtime to jumpstart the 8-3 overtime run that sealed the deal.
2) Turnover Battle
Usually BC finds itself on the wrong side of the turnover battle. In fact, the Eagles typically average 13.7 turnovers per game, 1.1 more than their opponents, and, coming into the game, had the 154th-worst turnover rate in the country, according to KenPom.com. But on Saturday, BC only coughed up the ball 10 times—the fewest number of any game during their current win streak. With Bowman at the point, the Eagles were particularly sharp in the first half, committing just two turnovers. As the game went on, and their offense hit a wall, the unit’s ball movement regressed. Still, for the most part, head coach Jim Christian’s team kept the mental errors to a minimum.
BC did an even better job taking the ball away from Richmond, forcing 15 turnovers. Multiple times, the Eagles picked off a pass in their own territory and created on the other end. Just as Richmond was starting to work its way back into the game toward the tail end of the first half, a Steffon Mitchell-Nik Popovic double team prompted an errant pass. Chatman scooped up the loose ball and fired it down the court for a wide-open Vin Baker Jr. The freshman pranced to the hoop, delivering a two-handed dunk to halt the Spiders’ scoring spree.
3) Fast Start
BC ranks in the top-third of the country in scoring. On average, the Eagles rack up close to 78 points per game. But it’s how they get there that’s even more intriguing. Throughout the first two months of the season, BC has routinely struggled in the first half. Sometimes shots haven’t been falling. Other times it’s simply been a matter of turnovers and subpar perimeter defense. But for the first 12 or so minutes of the Saturday’s game, the Eagles were flawless.
To start the game, BC coasted to a 17-point lead. Not only was Chatman making shots, but so were the rest of his teammates. In no time, Bowman found his jumper. The guard-heavy offense coupled with Popovic’s inside presence and Luka Kraljevic’s outside shot was practically unstoppable. About midway through the first half, Chatman was on pace to 50-plus points. As a whole, BC was on its way to another 80-point game. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.
1) Jerome Robinson
Less than seven minutes into the game, Popovic positioned himself in front of Golden in the paint. As soon as Buckingham lofted a pass inside, the big man extended his arm blocking the pass. He scooped up the loose ball and immediately fired it down the court to Bowman. But in doing so, he turned it right back over. Going the other way, Golden tried to push the ball into BC’s end, passing the ball to Buckingham. But as soon as the ball reached his fingertips, Robinson fouled the sophomore guard hard. In the process, Robinson took a punishing fall, and for a moment appeared to have injured himself.
The junior walked off the court with a grimace on his face. Even though it was later confirmed that Robinson was okay, the play itself was still concerning. Injury or not, Christian had to sit his veteran guard because of foul trouble. By forcibly disrupting the fastbreak pass, Robinson picked up his second personal of the game, virtually sidelining him for the majority of the first half. While the Eagles made do without him for a bit, they couldn’t call on his number when they needed him most: a 10-0 Richmond run.
Robinson was almost always on the court in the back half of play, but aside from a two-minute stretch at the beginning of the second period, he wasn’t really a factor. For the first time since the season opener, he didn’t make a single 3-pointer. It was Bowman and Chatman, both of whom played the entire 45 minutes, who stole the show.
Christian always talks about how his team is a top-40 offensive rebounding unit. But on Saturday, it was the Spiders who were the aggressors. Richmond brought down 15 offensive rebounds—six more than BC. Golden led the charge with four, and scored his fair share of second-chance points.
Richmond’s rebounding dominance extended to the other end of the floor. Despite being the 21st-shortest team in the nation, the Spiders outrebounded the Eagles—a group that is recording 41.2 boards per game—46-35. The offensive rebounds didn’t hurt, but the secret to Richmond’s success was boxing out Bowman. In the three games prior, the electric point guard was averaging close to 10 rebounds. Whereas on Saturday, the Spiders held him in check. In fact, by the game’s end, Bowman was seven rebounds short of a double-double.
3) Second-Half Shooting Struggles
Entering the weekend, Richmond—a team that was allowing opponents to shoot over 50 percent from the field—ranked in the bottom fifth of the country in effective field goal defense. It definitely looked the part against BC, at least for most of the first half. There were stretches where the Eagles couldn’t miss. Shot after shot, they increased their lead. But just when the game appeared to be over, everything changed.
As the first half came to a close, BC’s offense started to unravel. The unit continued to spiral out of control after intermission. Over the course of the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Eagles shot just 37 percent from the field, including a mere 2-of-8 from deep. Even when BC forced the ball inside, production was slim. Although the Eagles were up against an undersized frontcourt, they had a difficult time drawing contact, and when they did, they couldn’t capitalize at the free throw line, shooting just 5-of-8 from the charity stripe in the second half.
BC’s offensive collapse showcased its Achilles’ heel. Without depth and a consistent inside presence, the Eagles are often helpless when their trio of guards are out of sync.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Staff