With 4.3 seconds left in Saturday’s game, head coach Earl Grant’s squad was heavily depleted. Down two points, and with three players fouled out, Grant looked to senior guard Makai Ashton-Langford to make magic happen. Ashton-Langford flew down the length of the court through multiple defenders but just missed a contested layup, closing the book on Boston College men’s basketball’s closest loss of the season.
In an afternoon nailbiter, the Eagles (6–7, 1–2 Atlantic Coast) fell to Pittsburgh (6–9, 1–3) by a final score of 69–67. With its two-point loss to Pitt, BC remains winless on the road.
“We got the first option,” Grant said after the game. “We got all the way to the rim. … When [Ashton-Langford] got to the rim, he just didn’t make it.”
Entering Saturday’s game, it had been a rough couple of weeks for the Eagles. After a series of COVID-19-related postponements and cancellations, as well as a 26-point home loss against North Carolina, BC entered Pitt’s Petersen Events Center on Saturday looking for a reset. And for much of the first half, it looked like the Eagles would bounce back from their struggles.
BC started out strong, getting out to a 7–2 lead early. But the Panthers answered quickly, taking the lead via an 8–0 run. John Hugley, Pitt’s leading scorer, found his rhythm early in what would end up as a career night for the sophomore forward. Aside from just his scoring, Hugley drew two early fouls from both of BC’s big men—James Karnik and Quinten Post—leaving the Eagles vulnerable in the paint.
“The biggest thing was that [Hugley] was 285 pounds and he got us in foul trouble,” Grant said. “[That was] probably the biggest thing—not so much in scoring baskets, but the number of fouls he caused us to commit.”
Despite Hugley’s imposing presence, BC remained undeterred. Led by the potent scoring trio of Jaeden Zackery, DeMarr Langford Jr., and Ashton-Langford, the Eagles went on another run and built an 11-point lead. As the first half drew to an end, BC was in control leading 36–32.
Hugley’s dominant performance continued into the second half, where he quickly drew four more fouls from Karnik and Post, leaving each player one away from fouling out. He continued to attack BC’s defense and get to the free-throw line.
Five minutes into the half, the Panthers reclaimed the lead and were looking to shut the door on the Eagles. BC began to collapse, as Grant was called for a technical foul and Karnik fouled out. Though plenty of time still remained, Pitt had all of the momentum, and its crowd—which had been rather sleepy up to this point—was awake.
The two teams traded baskets for the next several minutes, but with just under three minutes to play, the Eagles trailed by seven. Pitt, however, has struggled finishing games all year and BC took advantage of that fact.
Ashton-Langford took over and led the Eagles on a quick 7–0 run. In some of the most intense basketball BC has played all season, the Eagles had a number of opportunities to take the lead but ultimately could not capitalize.
Down four with 18.3 seconds left, T.J. Bickerstaff converted on a tough layup and hit the free-throw that followed, making it a one-point game with 12.5 seconds to play.
On the next play, Pitt broke BC’s trap defense and shaved eight seconds off the clock before the Eagles fouled Hugley. He made one of two free throws, setting up the final sequence that would deliver BC yet another road loss.
“We put ourselves in position to have the ball with a chance or win it,” Grant said. “So there was some growth. But we’ve got to learn how to win and learn how to win on the road.”
Featured Image by Chris Ticas / Heights Staff