Losing on a buzzer-beater is never fun.
In fact, it’s heartbreaking.
But losing at the buzzer on a wide-open layup in overtime is even worse.
That’s the type of loss Boston College men’s basketball experienced last season against Miami in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals.
But Wednesday night—305 days later—BC had a chance at redemption against the Hurricanes in Coral Gables, Fla.
Fueled by DeMarr Langford Jr. and Makai Ashton-Langford’s 39 combined points, the Eagles (8–9, 2–4 Atlantic Coast) came within striking distance of Miami at times in the contest. But Miami’s plethora of scoring runs—including a 15–0 first-half run—proved too much for BC to handle in its 88–72 loss. The Hurricanes (14–2, 5–1) shot 67 percent from deep en route to their victory.
“They got spurtability,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “That’s one thing you notice about them, they can roll out 10 points quick.”
After Prince Aligbe notched the first two points of the game on a midrange jumper, Miami burst out for an 8–0 run, headlined by a Wooga Poplar 3-pointer. The Hurricanes collected six first-half 3-pointers.
Miami registered just 38 points in the paint, but it came at a cost for BC, as the Eagles were focused on limiting Hurricanes’ shots around the rim.
“We had such an emphasis on protecting the paint,” Grant said. “They made some, we didn’t recover quick enough.”
Just two minutes into play, Quinten Post cleaned up Mason Madsen’s missed layup for his fourth point to put BC ahead 13–10, but the Eagles never held the lead again. Less than four minutes later, Grant subbed out the 7-footer after he picked up his second personal foul. Post didn’t return to the game until 14:17 into the second half.
Miami then went on a 15–0 run that gave the Hurricanes a 25–13 lead.
In need of some outside shooting—something the Eagles lack, as they are shooting 27.6 percent from deep on the season—Grant inserted CJ Penha Jr. onto the floor with 7:27 left in the first half. Penha has seen his minutes decreased since Post returned from a foot injury against Syracuse on Jan. 1, but Post on the bench with foul trouble made room for Penha to step in.
Sixteen seconds after subbing in, Penha scored a 3-pointer. But Miami’s high-powered offense toppled BC again, as Jordan Miller, Poplar, and Nijel Pack executed three consecutive 3-pointers. Miami went on an 11–0 run which extended its lead to 43–26 with 51 seconds left in the first half.
“They really did a good job getting into the tempo that they wanted,” Grant said.
BC couldn’t stay alive, especially with Post—who played 17 minutes—on the bench. On the offensive end, Miami hunted down Penha, who fought tirelessly—but to no avail—to stay in front of any Hurricane on the perimeter or in the post.
“The pace of the game was fast,” Grant said. “[Post] hadn’t played much this year. So I just felt, get him out of the game. The game was too fast for him at times. So I wanted the game to settle down. We settled the game down in the second half—I got him back in.”
Four minutes into the second half, BC had outscored Miami 12–7, but Jaeden Zackery—who finished the game with two points—was stripped on a fastbreak, leading to an Isaiah Wong 3-pointer, which brought Wong to 13 points on the night.
But six straight Ashton-Langford driving layups, along with an empathetic Langford Jr. dunk, cut Miami’s lead to 52–46 with 14:24 remaining in the game.
On defense, BC couldn’t muster an answer for Wong’s electric scoring ability, as he nailed two deep, contested 3-pointers within a one-minute span, providing flashbacks of his 14-point performance against the Eagles in the Barclays Center 10 months prior.
Wong’s third and final 3-pointer of that one-minute stretch put Miami at 10 threes on the night.
“They just made ’em,” Grant said. “Some of the shots in the second half were really contested—and they made them. So, when you give good effort and you contest the shot, if a guy makes it, you just gotta pat him on the butt. It’s a talented player making a shot.”
The Eagles didn’t have a hot streak in them to close out the game, and allowed Miami to cruise to 88 points—tied for the most points BC has given up all season.