Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

St. John’s Holds Off BC’s Comeback Try, Eagles Fall 97-93

Down by 20 with just 13 minutes to go in the game, it looked like Boston College men’s basketball’s fate was all but sealed. After being down by 10 early on in the game, St. John’s had fought back to take a massive, seemingly insurmountable lead, and the Eagles were stuck. 

As the second half wore on, BC’s defense began forcing turnovers, and the offense began scoring points off of them, cutting the Red Storm’s lead bit by bit. With 30 seconds to go, BC found itself within one of St. John’s, and a victory was in sight. 

But just as the Eagles’ comeback hopes nearly came to fruition, a few costly errors in the waning seconds of the matchup meant BC (1-2) came up just short, falling 97-93 to St. John’s (3-0). 

“We got like that late probably because we were down, and guys want to fight back,” BC head coach Jim Christian said in his postgame press conference. “They want to make plays. But you have to just keep making the right play. That would have given us a chance. And then obviously we committed to fouls at the end when we were saying not to foul—it was a one possession game and we fouled twice. That’s what you learn from the beginning of the year.”

The game may have come down to the final seconds, but the Red Storm dictated most of the action throughout. When St. John’s had the ball, the shot clock almost never hit single digits. The Red Storm played with pace and intensity, but along with that intensity came plenty of mistakes, the most obvious of which was a missed windmill dunk by Posh Alexander late in the game.

The most costly of St. John’s mistakes were slightly less visible. Three different St. John’s players—Dyla Addae-Wusu, Isaih Moore, and Vince Cole—fouled out of the game. The Red Storm gave up 15 turnovers, 10 of which came in the second half as the game became more and more of a nailbiter. 

The same patterns were true for BC, which gave up 19 turnovers—10 in the second half—and 23 fouls, including the two costly last-minute fouls. 

“We needed to get back in the game, so we had to play a little fast [when] they had a lead on us,” Christian said about his team’s mistakes. “But we’ve just got to get better at making decisions, and I know we’ll do that. … We made pretty good decisions the first few nights. We’re just going to keep getting better.”

Wynston Tabbs also lost the ball out of bounds with 25 seconds to go, and on the St. John’s inbound, Julian Champagnie turned it right back over with a bad pass out of bounds. That error was one of Champagnie’s few of the night, as the sophomore came off the bench to record a career-high 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting. 

The matchup was a game of runs for both sides. Early in the first half, BC went on an 8-0 run to take the lead at 19-9, but by the end of the period, St. John’s had gone on an 8-0 run of its own to take its first lead of the game, which held all the way through to the final buzzer. In the second half, the Eagles put together runs of 12-0 and 9-0 to take the game down to the wire. 

Five Eagles notched double-digit points, including Tabbs, who recorded 23 before he fouled out. CJ Felder notched 18, while Jay Heath and Makai Ashton-Langford added 13 apiece. Rich Kelly rounded out the Eagles’ top scorers with 11. 

Christian said that although scoring wasn’t an issue for the Eagles—they nearly hit 100—decision-making of when to score was an issue. 

“I need to see more guys making the right play, and those things will happen,” Christian said. “We have a bunch of guys that can score the ball, but too many times we did not make the right decision under the duress they were putting on us. It’s the third game of the year we had to learn and get better from that, but, you know, we definitely had our opportunities.”

Featured Image by Jessica Hill / AP Photo

December 1, 2020