Men's Basketball, Basketball, Sports

Eagles Fall On The Road 79–68 To Saint Louis After Powering Past Notre Dame

After opening ACC play with a 16-point win over Notre Dame and winning its last three games, Boston College men’s basketball looked to build off its momentum on Saturday night as it traveled to Saint Louis. BC’s efforts were not enough, however, and Saint Louis’ offensive strength proved to be too much for the Eagles to overcome. 

The Eagles (6–4,1–0 Atlantic Coast) fell to Saint Louis (8–3, 0–0 Atlantic 10) by a final score of 79–68 in Chaifetz Arena Saturday night. The defeat marks the Eagles’ fourth road loss of the season, as BC has not won an away game since Nov. 26, 2020.

The Eagles stuck to their pace of play and slowed the game down with their defensive physicality, forcing 15 Saint Louis turnovers. Saint Louis dominated the glass behind big man Francis Okoro, however, and with the help of their two-headed monster in Yuri Collins and Gibson Jimerson, the Billikens walked away with the win. 

On the other end of the floor, the Eagles could not get anything to fall. The Billikens crashed the paint and used their size to keep BC on the perimeter, forcing BC to shoot from behind the arc. The Eagles finished the half 1-of-9 from three and went 3-of-17 on the entire game. 

“They pressured us, and we settled for some of those shots,” head coach Earl Grant said in his postgame press conference. “We wanted to go inside. I thought we took too many threes with 14 or 15 seconds left on the clock. We needed to be more disciplined to work for a better shot.”

Late in the first half, the Billikens started to push the tempo, and led by Okoro and Collins, Saint Louis took a 12-point lead with less than four minutes left in the half. After five straight points from forward Fred Thatch Jr. in the final two minutes, the Billikens finished the half up 36–19. Saint Louis’ domination in the paint propelled it through the first half, and it finished the first 20 minutes with a 16–6 advantage in points in the paint and 6–0 advantage on second-chance points. 

As the second half began, Collins continued to control the tempo of the game for the Billikens by pushing the ball up the floor, and the Billikens continued to knock down open looks from beyond the arc. They eventually took a 23-point lead over the Eagles seven minutes into the second half, which was their largest of the game. Saint Louis’ barrage from three was led by top scorer Jimerson, who finished the game with five 3-pointers and 19 points.  

Midway through the second half, the Eagles began to go on a run of their own. On the defensive end, BC began to pressure the Billiken guards, forcing them into tougher looks and turnovers. On the other end, led by Makai Ashton-Langford and Quinten Post, the Eagles started driving into the paint and drawing fouls. With nine minutes left in the game, DeMarr Langford Jr. hit a second-chance layup for two of his 14 points on the night to cut the Billikens’ lead to just 14.   

The Billikens once again responded, and floor general Collins led the effort. On three straight possessions, Collins drove to collapse the defense and found the open man to bring the Billikens’ lead back up to 20. He finished the game with a double-double, totaling 14 points and 19 assists.

Led by Ashton-Langford once again, the Eagles started pushing the ball and penetrating to the basket for easier looks in the paint. A corner three from Ashton-Langford, which cut the Billikens’ lead to only seven, capped off the run. Ashton-Langford finished the game with a team-high 18 points.  

But the Eagles’ run was too little, too late, and the score read 68–79 Saint Louis as the final buzzer rang despite BC’s second-half effort. 

“It is all about just being more poised,” Grant said. “Taking better shots, executing better, having more patience, playing off two feet and making good decisions underneath the free throw line. That’s what it comes down to … [that is why] we won the second half.”

Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff

December 12, 2021