Boston College men’s basketball has won just two games in the ACC this year: one over Miami and one over Notre Dame. Across those two games, the Eagles coughed up the ball just 13 times. It seems that for the Eagles, their number of turnovers has an inverse relationship with their tallies in the win column. As turnovers go down, wins go up.
But in the first half of BC’s late-season game against No. 11 Florida State, BC nearly hit that two-game turnover total, recording 11 turnovers. As the game progressed, that number grew, and the Eagles finished the night with 23 turnovers. In the penultimate game of their regular season, the Eagles (4-14, 2-10 Atlantic Coast) struggled on both ends of the court, falling 93-64 to Florida State (15-4, 11-3), which currently sits atop the ACC rankings.
With Steffon Mitchell out for an undisclosed reason, the Eagles were faced with the problem of playing a top-25 team without their top defenseman.
“Not having Steffon [Mitchell] hurts us in a lot of different ways,” interim head coach Scott Spinelli said. “You know, what he does doesn’t really show up as much on the box score, but in a game like tonight, you know, his overall presence I’m sure would have really helped us.”
In his absence, though, BC turned to its steadiest offensive player: Jay Heath. Heath led the team in points with 234 entering Wednesday’s game, and he cemented himself at the top of the Eagles’ leaderboard once again. The sophomore guard tallied a game-high 28 points, doubling the total of BC’s second-highest scorer, Makai Ashton-Langford.
Heath stood out from 3-point range, hitting a career-high eight long-range shots on 8-of-14 shooting from distance. He also took on an unusual role on defense in Mitchell’s absence, though it didn’t show up on the stat sheet in his one steal and one defensive rebound.
“He actually played well defensively,” Spinelli said of Heath. “He had a really good overall game. … I think he’d be the first one to tell you he’s playing to win, just like everybody else, so I’m sure he’s disappointed in that.”
For all of Heath’s effort, however, Florida State was always one step ahead. The Seminoles capitalized on BC’s inability to hold onto the ball, recording 34 points off BC turnovers. Boasting a 55.6 percent field goal percentage, the Seminoles were practically unstoppable, and BC’s 36.7 percent conversion rate paled in comparison.
“Those breakdowns really cost us,” Spinelli said.
A stunning 78 of Florida State’s points came from its bench. Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton opted to start a group of seniors and fifth-year players to honor the Seminoles’ Senior Day. FSU’s starters—RayQuan Evans, Justin Lindner, Travis Light, Harrison Prieto, and Will Miles—combined for just 15 points. Four of those players—Lindner, Light, Prieto, and Miles—are fifth-year senior walk-ons who have been with the Florida State program for all five years, an unusual feat in college basketball.
BC has gotten used to featuring its walk-ons this season, and the same was true on Wednesday. Sam Holtze and Justin Vander Baan each recorded points on a combined 19 minutes on the court, and Vander Baan’s two points were the first of his career.
The Eagles won the battle of the boards 36-35, but even 14 offensive rebounds weren’t enough to keep BC in it. BC consistently crashed the glass on both ends of the court, led by Frederick Scott’s seven boards and James Karnik’s six.
“Those are effort plays,” Spinelli said. “That’s a great sign that, you know, we can actually chase down 14 offensive rebounds. I mean, that’s a statistic that is strictly effort, and really desire and determination, and that shows the fight that we have still in our guys.”
Featured Image by Michael Dwyer / AP Photo