Saturday afternoon’s road trip to face Richmond had the makings of a bounceback game for Boston College men’s basketball. After surrendering a 21-0 second-half run in a disappointing loss to Saint Louis on Wednesday, the Eagles welcomed Jay Heath and Jairus Hamilton back to the starting lineup while the Spiders were missing key center Grant Golden.
Instead of bouncing back, though, BC suffered through a strangely similar loss. The Eagles led by a point at the break, but then went ice cold in the second half, allowing Richmond to embark on a 23-2 run en route to a dismal 64-44 loss, their third defeat in a row.
BC (4-4, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) was once again unable to string together anything close to a complete performance. The Eagles shot just 29 percent from the field, turned the ball over 18 times, and went scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the second half during which Richmond (6-1) stretched its lead to double-digits for good.
Heath was the only BC player in double digits, scoring 14 points, but he was one of six players to turn the ball over multiple times. Point guard Derryck Thornton tied a season-low with seven points, going just 3-of-12 from the field and a woeful 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. The Eagles offense looked dysfunctional for large stretches of the game and was held to its lowest scoring total on the season.
Richmond, meanwhile, hung around in a sloppy first half before turning it on offensively. The Spiders used an 11-0 run before the break to only trail by one, then took the lead for good in the opening minutes after the break. Richmond shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half and connected on seven 3-pointers, quickly outpacing its visitors.
Guard Jacob Gilyard led the way, scoring 22 points in 37 minutes while chipping in eight rebounds, six assists, and five steals. Teammate Blake Francis buried four 3-pointers on an 18-point night, while Nick Sherod contributed five assists and Tyler Burton came off the bench to pile up four steals. The Spiders were outrebounded, 39-36, and managed just four offensive boards with Golden out, but they were stifling defensively and that more than made up for it.
The game got off to a slow start, with both teams trading missed shots and turnovers. Richmond seized a five-point lead with Francis scoring eight of his team’s first 10 points, but the Eagles answered with a 10-0 run behind an array of scorers. Julian Rishwain and Heath sunk 3-pointers to bookend the run, and it gave BC a lead it would only build on. After a pair of Spiders’ layups, the Eagles went on an 8-0 stretch in which Hamilton hit a 3-pointer and a layup before Steffon Mitchell converted an and-one opportunity.
Instead of building on the nine-point advantage, though, BC went nearly five minutes without a basket. During that span, Richmond scored 11 unanswered points, with Nathan Cayo accounting for seven of them. Hamilton hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the half to give the Eagles the lead back at 26-25, but it was concerning that BC looked lost in its offensive sets.
That worry translated to the second half. After Francis scored five quick points to start the second half, Heath and Thornton both scored to tie it at 30, but it would be nearly five minutes until the Eagles scored again. Burton had an emphatic dunk to break the tie, then Gilyard sunk a jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers to give Richmond a healthy 10-point lead.
BC’s CJ Felder stopped the bleeding with a dunk of his own, but Richmond’s offense was just getting going. Four different players contributed to a 13-0 run that stretched the Spiders advantage to a decisive 21 points with eight minutes to play, and it all but locked up the win. Heath had five points to cap off his night in the last two minutes, but it only closed Richmond’s edge to the final 20-point margin.
It was a troubling sight for the Eagles to once again struggle mightily offensively and allow an opponent to all but win the game during a stretch of the second half. If BC is allowing teams like Saint Louis and Richmond to pull away so quickly, it doesn’t bode well for a successful conference campaign. Through eight games, BC’s offense is ranked 245th nationally in offensive efficiency—one spot ahead of the 2016 team that managed just seven wins all year. Head coach Jim Christian is known for his offense, but he’ll have to go back to the drawing board as his team enters December loaded with question marks.
Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor