As Boston College men’s basketball took the court to represent the ACC in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Nebraska on Wednesday, there were a number of key pieces missing from its roster. The Eagles were without three players dealing with injuries—Donald Hand Jr., Prince Aligbe, and Quinten Post—and it proved to make the game difficult for BC offensively.
Short-handed, the Eagles played a competitive first half, but Nebraska (5–3) capitalized on the Eagles’ (5–3) limited roster and dominated the second half, defeating BC 88–67.
“I mean we just gotta stay the course, you know, we gotta stay the course,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “Every season has a different storyline, you know, we got plenty of players that can, you know, step up and play at a high level.”
While Post has been out all season with a foot injury and Aligbe has been suffering a high ankle sprain since BC’s game against Maine on Nov. 14, BC tweeted before the game that Hand underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL on Monday.
The Eagles played slowly to start the game and recorded six fouls in the first seven minutes. The Cornhuskers jumped out to an early six-point lead.
BC quickly adjusted, however, as Makai Ashton-Langford and Chas Kelley III nailed back-to-back deep 3-pointers to tie the game at 13–13 with 11:33 left to play in the first half.
As BC’s offense came alive, the tone of the game shifted. The Eagles began pressing the Huskers and took a 22–20 lead.
Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga scored 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field in 13 minutes, helping the Cornhuskers regain a 26–22 lead.
But the Eagles responded once again. CJ Penha Jr. drilled two 3-pointers, helping BC find a rhythm and retake the lead for a second time.
The Eagles’ struggles to contain Tominaga continued, as the junior guard recorded 17 total first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field. The Huskers led 37–34 going into halftime.
“I thought we controlled the first half,” Grant said. “I mean I felt really good about the first half, we controlled it, did a really good job of defending them. We did break down a few times on their shooter, [Tominaga], but you know, it was a three-point game at half.”
BC carried its defensive struggles from the end of the first half into the second and the Huskers capitalized on them, jumping out to an eight-point lead in just over two minutes. Grant was forced to call an early timeout with 17:39 left to play.
Nebraska kept its foot on the gas pedal, and Pinnacle Bank Arena erupted after officials called a charging foul on DeMarr Langford Jr.
The Cornhuskers shut down BC’s offense in the second half, holding the Eagles to just four points in the first 11 minutes. Led by Tominaga, Nebraska extended its lead to 24 points after a 24–4 run.
Nebraska’s offense continued to dominate, and despite BC’s efforts to establish a more consistent rhythm, the Huskers closed out their 88–67 win.
“They really hurt us the last two minutes of the [first] half going on a 9–1 run,” Grant said. “And then the second half, we lost our poise, they got up 12, we lost our poise, it went from 12 to 15 and 15 to 18. You know, and they shot the ball really well, got some rhythm, their crowd got behind them, and we never could really stop the bleeding.”
Despite the loss, Kelley, who entered the matchup averaging just 3.1 points per game, posted his first double-digit performance of the season with 10 points.
“I thought Chas [Kelly] played well, I thought Devin McGlockton, both of those guys, you know, gave us great energy off the bench,” Grant said. “So really proud of them.”