Sports, Top Story, Winter, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Fall To No. 16 Duke In Final Seconds Of Regulation

Three. That is the number of times Boston College men’s basketball has defeated Duke in 31 all-time matchups.

The fourth win—and the first since BC defeated No. 1 Duke in Conte Forum in 2017—was at BC’s fingertips Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill.

Up one point with 12 seconds remaining, Quinten Post came down with what seemed to be a secure rebound, which would allow the Eagles to add a third conference win to their collection.

But the ball was knocked out of Post’s hands and Prince Aligbe recorded a foul in the fight for possession of the ball. 

The No. 16 Blue Devils (12–4, 3–2 Atlantic Coast) then nailed two free throws, and BC came up empty on one last possession where Makai Ashton-Langford took an erratic mid-range jumper. Less than a second remained after Ashton-Langford’s shot, and Duke slipped away with a 65–64 win over BC (8–8, 2–3).

“Duke did a good job of jumping Makai’s right hand at the end,” BC head coach Earl Grant said of the last play. “We wanted to get it to him on his right hand and get [Post] setting a pick, so he can go try to lay it in, and if they stop the ball, you got [Post] at the rim.”

Ashton-Langford airballed the shot, and Post failed to secure the rebound once again—this time the ball fell out of bounds and Duke gained possession.

“We didn’t necessarily get exactly what we wanted,” Grant said. “You know, it’s very disappointing. … We gotta learn from it. It was a possession game and we had our chances, just couldn’t capitalize.”

The Eagles entered the matchup as the second worst 3-point shooting team in the nation, shooting 26.48 percent from behind the arc and averaging 4.5 triples a game.

This, however, did not stop the Eagles from using 3-pointers to keep the game close in the first half, as BC connected on three of eight attempts from deep in the first 20 minutes. The Eagles hit six 3-pointers all game.

Duke jumped out to a 12–6 lead, but 3-pointers from Post and Ashton-Langford helped BC keep the game within reach. The Eagles climbed back and were down just 14–12 six minutes into the game.

Falling behind 21–16, the Eagles once again utilized the three, as Mason Madsen brought the Eagles within two on a deep ball. Jaeden Zackery converted on a layup to tie the game at 21 apiece.

A hail mary pass from DeMarr Langford Jr. to Post with one second left in the first half cut Duke’s lead to 37–33 heading into the break, as Post nailed a fadeaway jumper.

But BC struggled to score at the start of the second half and fell behind by 14 points just five minutes into the frame. The Eagles’ struggles out of the break mirrored BC’s early second-half play in its loss against Duke on Dec. 3, 2022. 

The Eagles reverted back to their bread and butter: BC started taking high-quality shots from within the arc and employed a zone defense that Duke could not crack. 

“They made some shots,” Grant said. “Their big guys were doing a good job of, you know, scoring around the basket. So they presented a lot of issues, like a lot of challenges for us to take away, but I thought we changed our defense … [to a] zone matchup, and I thought it bothered them.”

An acrobatic layup from Ashton-Langford brought the game back within single digits, and Post’s second 3-pointer cut Duke’s lead to 52–46 with 13 minutes remaining.

“You know, we went on a run,” Grant said. “They didn’t like attacking that zone at the time we went on a run, and that just changed the game, it got our crowd back into it, and it went from 14 to six pretty quick.”

Zackery tied the game on a fast break layup, capping off a 16–2 BC run. BC held Duke to 1-of-14 shooting from the floor in the final 11 minutes of play.

“I’m gonna be honest with you,” Grant said. “They had two [points]. They couldn’t score.”

Aligbe nailed a 3-pointer to bring the Eagles within one point, and Post—who finished with a season-high 16 points—converted on a fadeaway mid-range jumper with just under 30 seconds left in regulation to give BC its first lead of the night, just seconds away from a monumental upset.

But Aligbe’s foul on the Blue Devils’ Kyle Filipowski on the next possession proved to be detrimental, as Filipowski knocked in both foul shots.

With BC’s empty final possession, Duke sent an electric Conte Forum home with a one-point loss.

“It was good, it was good, lot of energy,” Grant said. “You know, exciting to see, you know, a lot of fans here. I think our players feed off of that … you know, our fans were amazing, we need them to come back … they’re a great group of fans.”

January 7, 2023
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