Top Story, Men's Basketball

Bowman Carries Eagles to Overtime Win Against Georgia Tech

When Jerome Robinson fouled out with three minutes remaining and Boston College men’s basketball trailed visiting Georgia Tech by three points on Sunday afternoon, Conte Forum let out a collective groan. Without one of their three sharpshooting guards, the Eagles couldn’t space the floor nearly as well as they have all season. All that was left for the Yellow Jackets was to shut down the duo of Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman.

They did that, but forgot about freshman Steffon Mitchell—who was left wide open in the right corner and buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.

Then, it was Bowman who refused to let the Eagles lose their second-straight overtime game—and fourth overall in a row. The sophomore guard danced, darted, and faded away for eight-consecutive points in the extra period, guiding BC to a crucial 80-72 win over the Yellow Jackets (11-12, 4-6 Atlantic Coast).

Bowman, who was held scoreless for the entirety of the second half, elevated his game when the Eagles (14-9, 4-6) needed him most.

“He has an innate ability to understand and have confidence to take the moment,” BC head coach Jim Christian said. “There’s nobody else in the country, in my mind, that I’d rather have shooting that ball than him.”

Bowman finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Robinson and Chatman led the way with 19 apiece. Johncarlos Reyes turned in an impressive outing off the bench, scoring 10 points and pulling down four rebounds in the win.

The Eagles were down by as much as 13 with five minutes left in the first half, but came alive after the intermission. Chatman led the way with 16 second-half points, hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The junior guard couldn’t be contained, knocking down both open looks and heavily contested ones.

The lead for GT quickly dwindled. It sat at seven four minutes into the second half, but a Reyes putback and Robinson fadeaway set up Chatman for a game-tying 3-pointer at the 14:31 mark. The Eagles seized the momentum, building a seven-point lead over the next seven minutes or so.

“We just started executing a little better,” Christian said of his offense. “We didn’t move the ball against the zone well early on. We really emphasized getting the ball where we wanted—we were too stagnant early.”

BC couldn’t stay ahead, though. Costly turnovers set up a run for the Yellow Jackets, who tied it back up at 59 apiece in a span of just three minutes. The teams traded blows for the next four-and-a-half minutes before Robinson’s exit. But, just a minute later, GT lost its best scorer too. Talented guard Josh Okogie, who had scored 12 points on the day, fouled out, leaving head coach Josh Pastner without his primary offensive weapon for the game’s closing seconds and, eventually, overtime.

After Mitchell’s equalizer, the Yellow Jackets had a shot to tie, but freshman guard Jose Alvarado was called for a traveling violation. Bowman wasn’t able to convert a layup as the clock wound down, but more than made up for the missed shot in overtime.

Despite shooting almost 60 percent from the field in regulation, GT went on to miss seven of its eight shots in overtime, as they were outscored, 11-3. It was a tough loss for the Yellow Jackets, who had chances early to put the game away but couldn’t pull it off, despite having six scorers in double-digits.

GT led 36-28 at halftime on the strength of its post presence. The Yellow Jackets consistently slashed its way inside, feeding big men Abdoulaye Gueye and Ben Lammers, or scoring layups as Brandon Alston and Okogie worked their way to the rim.

The lead stretched to as much as 13 with five minutes left in the first, thanks to a struggling Eagles offense. Chatman missed his first six shots, including four from 3-point land. Luckily for BC, it was bailed out twice by 3-pointers at the shot clock buzzer. Still, the Eagles didn’t score for a pair of three-minute stretches, enough to set them back.

When they finally did get going, it was solely on the shoulders of Bowman. The guard knocked down a corner 3-pointer and then one from the top of the key, cutting the lead in half over the course of just two possessions. That was as close as they’d get in the opening 20 minutes, though, as a layup inside from Alston and an emphatic fast break dunk from Okogie created further separation.

With Popovic struggling inside, Christian turned to Reyes off the bench—and got an inspired effort. The sophomore scored six of his 10 points in the opening half, rolling off ball screens well to finish at the rim.

“This was a good game for him because of how they were playing,” Christian said. “He’s a really good roller and they stayed on the wings. He’s our best finisher of our big men and gave us great minutes.”

On Wednesday against Virginia Tech, the Eagles didn’t hit the shots they needed too. They made just one of their five shot attempts in the overtime period, en route to the five-point loss. This time around, Bowman and Co. didn’t let the game slip away. BC drilled four of its last seven shots on its way to a pivotal conference win, proving that it does have what it takes to close out games when the stakes are high, even without Robinson on the floor.

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

February 4, 2018