Boston College men’s basketball took to its home floor on Sunday afternoon standing out for the wrong reason—the Eagles were the only team in the ACC yet to record a conference victory. Facing a 15-point deficit against No.11 Florida State near the end of the first half, things appeared to be going from bad to worse for the Eagles. BC had other ideas, though.
The Eagles (10-7, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) erupted with a 19-4 run to open the second half and never relinquished the lead from that point forward, beating the visiting Seminoles (13-5, 1-4), 87-82. Ky Bowman led the way with 37 points, keeping his team in the game when the rest of the team was struggling in the first half, then leading the offensive onslaught in the second frame. Jordan Chatman kept pace with his backcourt mate after the break, hitting five 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes. The 87-82 win, which got the Eagles off the conference schneid, was also the well-deserved 300th of head coach Jim Christian’s career. Here are 10 takeaways from the victory.
1) Hercules: Bowman’s effort truly was Herculean. The Havelock, N.C. native confidently piled up 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including six 3-pointers. He also skied high for nine rebounds, all while never coming off the court to take a breather. Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton praised Bowman after the game for his ability to be so effective while playing the whole 40 minutes. Knowing Bowman was hot, the Seminoles attempted to aggressively deny the ball from Bowman for most of the second half. The attention that Bowman drew from multiple defenders opened up shots for Chatman and Wynston Tabbs. The defensive strategy was designed to stop Bowman from scoring, but he was still able to get the ball in his hands and log 19 second-half points.
2) Crowd: Sunday marked this season’s second conference home game, the first of which was played when the majority of BC students were home for winter break. For this game, students braved the cold weather and despite Conte Forum only filling up three-quarters full, they still made their presence felt. After big shots and plays, the crowd roared triumphantly in support of the Eagles, which seemed to frustrate FSU and make the Seminoles more susceptible to scoring runs. When Chatman heated up in the second, it was particularly loud, and Bowman’s bow-and-arrow celebration also drew plenty of applause.
3) Control: BC struggled with ball control in the first half, coughing up the rock nine times. The Seminoles converted turnovers into points, which allowed them to build up their lead. Nik Popovic committed six of the Eagles’ 15 turnovers in the game, and this was largely a result of the junior having to dribble the ball along the perimeter, thanks to strong defense down low from Seminoles big man Mfiondu Kabengele. BC turned the turnover tide in the second half, though, committing just six. It also did a much better job capitalizing off FSU’s miscues, pushing the ball in transition and outscoring the Seminoles in points off turnovers.
4) Return: Steffon Mitchell, who has battled injury for much of this season, returned to the starting lineup and played 39 minutes. It was the first time that the Minnesota native had started and played more than 20 minutes in the same game since Dec. 12 against Columbia. Mitchell did not attempt a field goal, but his impact on this team could not be understated. He hustled underneath for eight rebounds, tirelessly came away with loose balls, and recorded three blocks at pivotal points during the game that swung momentum toward the Eagles’ bench. It was a welcome sight to see the sophomore playing at close to full strength, as he is one of the engines that fuels BC’s success.
5) Stroke: Prior to Wednesday’s game at Louisville, Jordan Chatman opened conference play shooting 2-of-18 from 3-point range. It was an uncharacteristic start for the marksman who usually has no problem finding his shot. After hitting six triples against Louisville, Chatman continued his hot shooting on Sunday, sparking BC’s second-half comeback. Down by two, the senior lined up from deep. The shot hit nothing but net, and the confident Chatman would swish two more 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and all of a sudden the Eagles had a seven-point lead. As a team, BC shot 62 percent from beyond the arc on Sunday, its first contest shooting above 40 percent from distance this season.
6) Depth: Unveiling a lineup that was as close to fully healthy as the Eagles have enjoyed since November, it would seem that players like Chris Herren Jr., Jairus Hamilton, and Jared Hamilton who started and found success in the absences of Mitchell, Chatman, and Tabbs would continue to contribute off the bench. In this game, however, the Eagles scored just seven bench points, and the aforementioned trio combined for just 17 minutes. BC was able to ride its hot starters to victory, but it did come at the expense of a continued stretch of playing time for young role players.
7) Pendulum: Momentum swung back and forth in this game with each passing minute. The first half consisted of a 17-1 Seminoles run that opened up a 15-point lead. BC chipped away near the end of the first half, beginning to turn the tide and cutting the deficit to 10 at halftime. The 3-point blitz in the second half opened the frame with a 19-4 Eagles run. The crowd got involved, and the energy remained with the Eagles for the remainder of the contest. While FSU never quit and made it interesting in the final minutes—it got back in the game and cut the deficit to as little as four—BC always had an answer and held on.
8) Smart: With over 12 minutes left to play in the game, Mitchell, Popovic, and Tabbs had all committed three fouls. With three of the Eagles’ starters in foul trouble, the Seminoles tried to drive at them and continue to draw more fouls. Each of them stayed disciplined, though, smartly contesting without fouling and switching to let Bowman contest more shots at the rim. Although the trio each finished the game with four fouls, there were no foul-outs, and Christian trusted them to keep playing effectively despite being in a dangerous situation.
9) Pressure: One of the reasons why the Eagles and especially Popovic were struggling with turnovers was because of FSU’s backcourt pressure. The long and athletic Seminoles swarmed the Eagles’ guards and in many cases forced the inbound to Popovic. While BC struggled to break the press in the first half, it improved greatly in the second, partially because of Popovic—on a few separate occasions, the 6-foot-10 big man dribbled the ball into the frontcourt and located a guard who could run the offense.
10) Home: Going back to last season, the Eagles have played significantly better at home. Over the past two years, the Eagles are 21-7 in Chestnut Hill and just 3-14 on the road. While the Eagles concerningly entered Sunday without a conference win, the schedule was laid out for BC to play three of its first four conference games on the road, with the lone home game being against No. 4 Virginia. The win on Sunday shows that the Eagles are capable of beating the brutal competition that the ACC boasts, especially when playing in the friendly confines of Conte Forum—BC’s last three wins against ranked opponents have come at home.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff