Basketball, Men's Basketball

Bowman’s Heroics Give Eagles Tight Win Over Wake Forest

In Ky Bowman, Boston College men’s basketball has a player who is capable of accomplishing anything on the offensive end of the court. The dynamic junior is equally as capable of catching fire from behind the 3-point arc as he is of throwing down a thunderous dunk on the fastbreak. Most impressively, Bowman has come up big on the biggest stages throughout his career, whether it’s a 30-point double-double to help knock off then-No. 1 Duke in 2017-18, a 37-point explosion last Sunday against then-No. 11 Florida State to help snap BC’s a five-game losing streak, or—most recently—a game-winning 3-pointer to upend Wake Forest on the road

Bowman struggled offensively for much of the game, but found the biggest shot of the game when the Eagles needed it. With 15.8 seconds to play, and just one second on the shot clock, the junior threw up an off-balance, heavily-contested 3-pointer and somehow knocked it down, providing BC with the only cushion it needed to escape with a 65-61 road win.

For a time, it appeared the Eagles (11-7, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) wouldn’t need any Bowman heroics to defeat the Demon Deacons (8-11, 1-6). Nik Popovic found a cutting Bowman for the first two points of the game, excellent ball movement led to open triples from Chris Herren Jr. and Jordan Chatman, and BC seized an 8-0 lead just two minutes into the game.

Wake Forest eventually got on the board, thanks to a pretty shot off the glass from Chaundee Brown. But as Bowman hit a fade-away jumper then received a pretty bounce pass on the fast-break from Chris Herren Jr. and made a tough layup to put the Eagles on top, 12-4, five minutes into the game, it looked like BC could be primed for an offensive explosion similar to the one it manufactured in its upset over the Seminoles.

Bowman’s fastbreak bucket, however, accounted for the last two points he would score in the first half, and when he went silent, the Demon Deacons slowly made their way back into the game. Jaylen Hoard, the team’s second leading scorer, rattled off three baskets in a row, the last of which was a shot from behind the arc that cut BC’s advantage to 20-18.

Nik Popovic, who accounted for 10 of his team-high 21 points in the first half, managed to give the Eagles some breathing room. Nice baseline movement and a beautiful bounce pass from Steffon Mitchell led to a dunk that extended the lead back to four with seven minutes to play in the first half, but once that shot dropped, BC—much like Bowman—went quiet on the offensive end.

Over the course of the next five minutes, the Eagles didn’t hit a single shot, settling for jumpers and heavily contested shots in the lane. Meanwhile, Wake Forest pounded the ball down low, scoring 10 consecutive points in the paint and taking a 33-27 lead with a little over one minutes to play in the half. BC looked lost after a hot offensive start and trailed, 35-31, going into the locker room.

The Eagles, who were again missing their second-leading scorer in Wynston Tabbs due to injury, sorely needed a scoring spark coming out of the break, and got it from their three best players. Bowman broke free for two fastbreak layups, Chatman continued his hot shooting by stepping into a pair of 3-pointers, and Popovic utilized a pretty drop step to power through two defenders for a layup and a foul as the Eagles managed to knot the game at 48 points a piece with 11 minutes to play.

Wake Forest made the first winning push, as Isaiah Mucius swished a shot from downtown and Hoard—who led all scorers with 22 points—fought his way to two more baskets down low. Mitchell found a pocket of space under the basket for an easy layup, but Brandon Childress—who shot just 3-of-16 from the floor despite entering the contest leading the Demon Deacons in scoring—responded with a contested free-throw line jumper to cap an 11-4 run and give Wake Forest its largest lead of the game at 59-52.

Childress may have struggled to score the basketball, but he still made an impressive defensive impact on the game, tirelessly hounding Bowman and forcing the BC star to work for every shot he took. So instead, the Eagles turned to Popovic for much of the offense down the stretch. The junior scored six consecutive points, courtesy of some nice footwork in the paint, before Chatman chipped in with a huge 3-pointer off a feed from Bowman to tie the contest at 61.

The senior’s long-range basket came with 2:25 left in the game, and both teams came up empty on their next three offensive possessions, setting the stage for Bowman’s wild 3-pointer to give the Eagles their first lead of the half. That shot could have been a mere footnote if the Demon Deacons had staged a last-ditch rally, but Mitchell forced a heavily contested attempt from Childress that was way off the mark on the ensuing Wake Forest possession. Fittingly, Bowman came up with the defensive rebound, and Jared Hamilton made 1-of-2 free throws to ice an ACC road win for BC.

Bowman’s crazy 3-pointer provides a feel-good ending to a game that likely shouldn’t have been as close. The Demon Deacons turned the ball over 16 times to the Eagles’ seven, shot just 5-of-23 from downtown, and saw their leading scorer in Childress manage just eight points, and yet took advantage of more inconsistency from BC to nearly leave the Joel Coliseum with a win.

The Eagles looked stagnant on the offensive end for much of the game, and the possession that gave BC the lead with 15 seconds to play would have also appeared much worse had Bowman not made his wild shot. For now, an Eagles team that has historically struggled in conference  play on the road under head coach Jim Christian will be happy to escape with a victory, but BC will simply have to find more offensive consistency to continue its win streak.

Featured Image by Andrew Dye / The Winston-Salem Journal via AP

January 27, 2019

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