Following a devastating 64-44 loss to Richmond last Saturday, Boston College men’s basketball sought to restore its scoring proficiency, which has been nearly nonexistent for two weeks. And yet, despite an excellent start to the first half, the Eagles extended their losing streak to four straight in a blowout loss to Northwestern.
BC (4-5, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) had only faced Northwestern (4-3, 0-0 Big Ten) five times prior to this matchup, and Northwestern had the historical advantage. Leading up to Tuesday, the Eagles were 2-3 against the Wildcats all-time, with Northwestern winning the last two meetings. BC’s matchup against the Wildcats also witnessed the return of forward A.J. Turner to Conte Forum, who spent two seasons with the Eagles before transferring to Northwestern.
The game began with consistent back-and-forth action in the first half. Neither team truly stood out as superior in the first 10 minutes of the half, with the largest deficit being BC’s four-point lead over Northwestern at 7-3. The constant trading of points was most evident in the fact that there were 11 separate lead changes to start the game as the two teams sparred for supremacy.
BC’s last lead of the game came off a Jairus Hamilton 3-pointer midway through the frame, making the game 18-15 in favor of the Eagles. After that, the Wildcats made sure BC would have no chance of a comeback, shutting down the Eagles’ offense and going on a 20-2 run that would put them up 35-20 with only three minutes remaining in the half.
Throughout the rest of the game, the closest the Eagles got was within nine points, which came following a Jay Heath 3-pointer to make the score 46-37 at the 15-minute mark in the second half.
After that brief single-digit lead, the Wildcats once again took control of the play with yet another long run against the Eagles—this one 16-5—topping the Eagles at 62-42 after another five minutes of play.
The score was reminiscent of the BC’s still-fresh loss against Richmond, which may explain why the Eagles, seemingly reinvigorated, went on to execute an 8-0 run over the next four minutes, substantially decreasing their deficit. But from nearly the beginning, it was a game of catch up for the Eagles, and an 8-0 run wouldn’t be enough. Northwestern had a substantial lead, and it would be extremely difficult for BC to regain its lost points while simultaneously preventing its opposition from scoring altogether.
And yet, despite their late offensive efforts, the Eagles were not “saved by the bell” in their ’90s themed matchup against the Widlcats. A second late run by the Eagle —this time only seven points—put them within 10 points of the Wildcats, but it was too late. A final eight-point run by the visiting team in the waning minutes of the second half conclusively ended a game that, in reality, had been won in the first half.
One may pin the Eagles’ scoring woes on their inability to steadily net shots that should be easy. BC consistently struggled with its free throws, only netting two out of the seven attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, the Wildcats collected all four of their free throw attempts in the second half in addition to the five they had netted in the first.
Head coach Jim Christian, however, pointed to the Eagles’ defense as the source of their troubles.
“Our defense was not where it needs to be, where it has been … [It was] very inconsistent today,” Christian said in a postgame conference.
And he’s not wrong—the Eagles were not only unable to capitalize on their offensive opportunities, but they were also unable to stop the Wildcats from going on long, largely uncontested runs. Northwestern was also much stronger on defense than BC, forcing exponentially more turnovers, and scoring a total of 16 points off those mistakes by the Eagles.
BC is now off to its worst start since the 2015-16 season, a year when the program went 7-25 league-wide and 0-18 in the ACC. While it’s still too soon to write off this season, the Eagles need to take a look at their current methods and change something—the team as it is now is not working.
Featured Image by Kayla Brandt / Heights Staff