In Boston College men’s basketball’s third game of the season, the Eagles’ starting five was notably missing Prince Aligbe.The freshman guard sustained an ankle injury early in BC’s second matchup of the season against Detroit Mercy, but he has emerged as a rising star on BC’s roster so far this season.
After their nail-biting, injury-ridden game against Detroit Mercy on Friday, the Eagles returned to Conte Forum Monday to close out their final three-game homestand before going on the road. Despite a contested second half in which the Eagles shot 50 percent from the floor, BC (2–1, 0–0 Atlantic Coast) took its first loss of the season, falling 69–64 to Maine (2–1, 0–0 America East).
“Early in the first 10 minutes we just needed to be better,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “You can be more mature and work for better shots.”
DeMarr Langford Jr. subbed in early after missing the first two games of the season with injury. Averaging 11.3 points per game in the 2021–22 season, Langford Jr. was the Eagles’ third-leading scorer last season and made an immediate impact upon his return on Monday.
Fast-break plays were the Eagles’ best look inside the paint, as BC’s half-court offensive woes continued from its previous two games. BC registered eight fast-break points in the game, and only 28 of the Eagles’ 64 points came in the paint.
As the first half progressed, the Black Bears looked more comfortable shooting from the perimeter. With 5:10 left in the first half, Maine had an 11-point cushion—capped off by a Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish layup—by outshooting the Eagles from deep.
“I could feel it early on,” Grant said of the Eagles’ offensive troubles. “I didn’t think we had the energy that we needed in the first five minutes.”
Down 29–18, the Eagles’ ball movement began to improve. BC’s comeback effort started with a jump shot from Makai Ashton-Langford that cut the deficit to nine points.
With strong steals on back-to-back plays, Ashton-Langford’s solo efforts put the Eagles in a position to tie the game, but BC failed to convert either of those looks.
With 30 seconds left in the half, transfer guard Mason Madsen nailed a corner three, making it 34–27 in Maine’s favor. Then Jaeden Zackery chopped the Black Bears’ lead down to four points with a half-court, buzzer-beating shot, bringing much-needed energy back into Conte Forum.
A recurring issue for the Eagles was their shooting from the free-throw line. BC shot 50 percent on free throws in the first half.
The Black Bears, however, started off the second half as strongly as they started the first, while the Eagles’ inconsistency from deep continued.
With 10 minutes passed in the second half, Zackery accounted for four of the Eagles’ first 16 points of the half. He also registered a defensive rebound that led to an Ashton-Langford jumper on the opposite end. Still, the Black Bears led 47–40.
Ashton-Langford began to fly around the court, taking the reins for BC’s offense and revitalizing it. The Black Bears still held the lead after several more minutes of play, but it was the first time in the game where it felt like the Eagles had the upper hand.
With 6:36 left in the game, Maine signaled for a timeout that quelled the Eagles’ momentum. BC had brought the deficit down to just four points, as the Black Bears led 58–54. Maine went on a scoring spree next, taking a 63–56 lead.
A steal and score by Ashton-Langford brought the Eagles within three points of tying the game but came up short.
Ashton-Langford brought the intensity into Conte in the second half, tallying 10 second-half, bringing his total for the game to 18.
Grant said the game will serve as a learning experience.
“In order to grow, you got to go through some tough times,” Grant said. “I think that’s where we are.”