Prior to Boston College men’s basketball’s Monday night game, the Eagles gave away 200 shirts reading “Sickos—Defend the Nut.” The shirt supply was quickly exhausted, as at least 200 fans packed Conte Forum, but it was clear after minutes of play that Chestnut Hill—or “the nut,” as popularized on Twitter—would not be defended.
After trailing 35–26 at halftime, BC (6–5, 1–0 Atlantic Coast) failed to garner enough momentum to overtake the Great Danes (3–7, 0–0 America East) despite a strong second half. The Eagles managed to narrow the gap but could not quite get the late-game stops necessary to seal a win. Ultimately, BC fell 61–57 after a comeback effort came up just short.
“I give Albany credit,” BC head coach Earl Grant said in his postgame press conference. “They did a great job. They made some tough shots, played extremely hard. … When we lose a game, it sucks. It’s humbling, but that’s what this game does to you.”
BC started the game with two straight baskets and good defense but quickly forfeited the lead and allowed a 7–0 Albany run. The Eagles kept themselves within striking distance of the Great Danes for most of the first half, but they could not match Albany from the floor.
“Early in the game we let the shooter [Matt Cerruti] get away from us,” Grant said. “He made some threes early, gave them some confidence—he got away from us.”
Cerruti tallied 11 of Albany’s 35 first-half points. He knocked down three 3-pointers while also scoring on a layup. While Cerruti attacked the Eagles from beyond the arc, BC struggled to get going from the field. Albany shot 50 percent through the first half, while BC connected on 35.7 percent of its looks. The Eagles fared worse from beyond the arc, shooting 27.3 percent compared to Albany’s 55.6 percent.
The end of the half went especially poorly for the Eagles, as they connected on just two of their nine field goal attempts to end the first half of play. Although the team struggled to put the ball into the basket, BC kept itself in the game by dominating at the glass. BC won the first-half rebounding battle and only improved its play in the paint in the second half, ultimately out-rebounding Albany 41–26 on the night.
“It took us a while before we got going—that’s why we got down nine,” Grant said. “We made a good push, but we let them hang around and guys made a few shots.”
While the Eagles only had a four-board advantage in defensive rebounding, they gave themselves two scoring chances on virtually every drive by grabbing 17 of 23 possible offensive rebounds.
T.J. Bickerstaff led the Eagles in rebounding with 11, although he also managed just one point from the line in 28 minutes on the court.
Canceling out BC’s rebounding, however, were turnovers. BC turned the ball over 13 times throughout the night, allowing Albany 11 points off turnovers. Albany allowed just seven turnovers throughout the night.
The Eagles had an offensive hole to fill without Brevin Galloway on the floor, but the rest of the team stepped up in his absence. Four Eagles scored 10 or more points, and Jaeden Zackery led the offensive charge with 15 points. While he shot just 35.7 percent from the field against Albany, Zackery continued to find his groove from deep, hitting three of six 3-point attempts.
“Jaeden was really big for us making big crucial threes,” Grant said. “Driving the ball, getting some assists for us, but we had 13 turnovers to 10 assists. That number has got to flip.”
While the Eagles did manage to fight back into the game in the second half, the damage of the first proved irreparable. BC took the lead early in the half after a 11–2 run, but its triumph was short lived. Just as BC started to look comfortable, the Great Danes responded with an 11–2 run of their own. While this run did not restore their halftime lead, it was enough for a cushion through the rest of the night.
BC battled back and cut Albany’s lead to just two points, but a Jamel Horton 3-pointer against the shot clock gave Albany a five-point lead with just 36 seconds left of play and virtually sealed the game for the Great Danes.
“One second on the shot clock, he bangs in the three,” Grant said. “If you let them hang around, you give them a chance. Their guys delivered when they needed to.”
The Eagles showed life in the game’s final seconds after intercepting an inbound pass and getting possession on a ball tipped out of bounds, but they could turn neither of their two opportunities into points.
With BC’s loss to Albany, ACC teams have now lost eight buy games this season, according to a Tweet from Jon Rothstein. After a down year for the conference in football, basketball could be the next sport with a shakeup of the powers that be. The Eagles begin the bulk of conference play following an abbreviated winter break.
“They need to go be a student for a couple days,” Grant said. “They’ve got exams coming up. … We’ve got a couple guys banged up. So they need to get away for two days and go be a student.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff