Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles’ Comeback Bid Comes Up Short in Loss to DePaul

People say that history repeats itself, but unfortunately for Boston College men’s basketball, that wasn’t the case today. Exactly 11 months ago, the Eagles headed to Chicago to take on DePaul in a well-contested non-conference matchup. Trailing throughout most of the game, sometimes by as much as 12, BC went on a furious comeback run to win by three.

Today, as DePaul (6-0, 4-0 Big East) entered Conte Forum, the game looked eerily similar at first. In both games, a low-scoring first half kept the lead in single digits, but DePaul broke out a double-digit lead in the second. BC (4-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) once again clawed their way back to make it a one-score game, but that’s where the similarities ended. BC couldn’t close it out and ended up falling to the Blue Demons 72-67. 

The first half passed without much excitement. In the first 20 minutes, neither team had much offensive success, with BC shooting just 29.1 percent from the field to DePaul’s 41.4 percent. The Eagles, however, shot 40 percent from 3-point range, a marked improvement from their previous few games. 

The teams went back and forth, cycling through eight lead changes in the first half alone, but once DePaul gained the lead at the end of the period, it never let it go. 

The Blue Demons came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders and went on an 11-6 run over the first three minutes, forcing BC head coach Jim Christian to take a timeout. 

DePaul’s second-half offensive efficiency was due largely in part to its 16 offensive rebounds, 10 of which came in the second half. The Blue Demons’ Romeo Weems and Paul Reed each put up 10 rebounds, six of which were offensive. 

“Giving up 16 offensive rebounds is a problem,” said Christian. “It’s not who we’ve been, but it was today. I’m more concerned that that was a huge emphasis for us coming into the game.”

Even Nik Popovic, whose height usually helps him become a standout performer on both the offensive and defensive glass, only put up four rebounds today, three of which were defensive. 

In a postgame conference, Christian emphasized the importance of “the little things,” which include rebounds, both offensive and defensive, and turnovers, of which BC gave up 16 today.  

With 11 minutes left in the game, BC’s outlook was bleak as it went down by 14, the largest deficit of the night. The Eagles were still struggling to put points on the board, and DePaul had hit its stride. 

“We were not committed as a group to doing everything we can,” said Christian. “I felt like we stopped playing when shots went up … and you can’t do that against teams like this.”

BC showed great resilience, though, and 12 minutes later, the Eagles brought it back within one point. Even so, DePaul kept pushing, stringing together a great offensive series to expand its lead once again. 

The Blue Demons eventually closed it out on free throws as BC gave up intentional fouls to stop the clock.

Though the final result was not the one BC wanted, aspects of the game did show great promise. Freshman Julian Rishwain had a standout performance, tallying 15 points on four 3-pointers and three free throws. He had a great night shooting, but Christian still argued that good shooting isn’t enough to win games.

“Us winning the game, for a freshman [like Rishwain], has little to nothing to do with his shooting and has everything to do with his understanding of defense and little things,” said Christian.

Even though they struggled in rebounds, turnovers, and shooting, the Eagles never gave up on themselves. They continued to press DePaul and create a well-matched contest against what Christian dubbed a “postseason basketball team.”

“You respond by getting better,” said Christian. “The only other response is panic. We’ve just got to get better.”

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor

November 23, 2019