Boston College men’s basketball and Tarleton State have never shared the court together until Sunday night, when the two teams faced off in the semifinals of the 2022 Paradise Jam tournament.
But instead of the Eagles, Tarleton State—elevated from Division II just two years ago—moved onto the finals in dominant fashion.
The Eagles (3–2) looked helpless, turning the ball over 20 times. The Texans (3–1) outworked BC in the Eagles’ 70–54 loss. Tarleton State has now forced 20-plus turnovers in all four of its games this season.
“Tarleton State forced us to be out of character,” head coach Earl Grant said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of dealing with the pressure and making the decisions trying to execute under duress.”
After taking a 5–2 lead, BC’s three-point lead vanished, and BC never led again.
Tarleton State went on a 9–0 run to put the Eagles down 14–5, and the Eagles totaled just five points through the first eight minutes of action.
“We weren’t at the level we needed to be in the first five minutes,” Grant said. “The first five minutes sets the tone. … They came out, threw the first punch. And we didn’t respond in the second half.”
That run grew into a 22–8 barrage from the Texans, and BC entered halftime with just 19 points.
The Eagles’ energy looked low—similar to BC’s low-energy performance in its first loss this season against Maine.
“Just try to continue to figure [it] out,” Grant said. “Maybe there’s something with the starting lineup, maybe there’s something else, but just keep trying to discover how to help your team be the best that they can be.”
In the second half, BC mightily struggled to cut into the Texans’ lead. Matters only got worse when Makai-Ashton Langford—the Eagles’ leading scorer so far this season—picked up his fourth foul with 15:08 left and was subsequently subbed out. Ashton-Langford did not play again for the rest of the game.
DeMarr Langford Jr. was also subbed out due to foul trouble early in the second half and never returned. He attempted just one field goal throughout the game.
Grant noted that Langford Jr. had a 103-degree fever two days before and was still questionable to play in the Eagles’ quarterfinal game against George Mason. He appeared in both.
With Tarleton State leading 44–25 with just over 15 minutes left, Grant didn’t want to push Langford’s limits, and freshman guard Armani Mighty and walk-on guard Quinn Pemberton checked into the game. It was Pemberton’s first game action of the season.
“I felt like the way the game went, where we were in the middle of the second half, we just needed to let the young guys grow and get them playing time because we’re down 18 points,” Grant said.
After Tarleton State took a 21-point lead—the Texans’ largest of the night—the Eagles began to show some fight, going on a 6–0 run off back-to-back 3-pointers from Mason Madsen and Chas Kelley III.
But another costly turnover—a C.J. Penha Jr. giveaway off a rebound—sucked all the momentum out of the Eagles as the Texans’ Jakorie Smith notched an easy layup.
The Texans had 26 points off Eagles’ turnovers. BC had nine.
Penha led BC with 12 points but also had three turnovers. Four different Eagles had three or more turnovers.
BC’s final shot came on another Madsen 3-pointer and a Mighty and-one, which cut the Texans’ lead to 10 with just under six minutes remaining. Madsen finished with 10 points.
“They started to play good basketball,” Grant said of his reserves. “So I just left them out there.”
A driving layup from Freddy Hicks put Tarleton State up 15 with 4:02 left, and BC never clawed back.
“It’s gonna come down to our values and our pride and our competitive spirit,” Grant said. “That’s what it’s gonna come down to.”