Men's Basketball, Basketball, Winter, Sports

Eagles Drop Fourth Straight, Fall to North Carolina Despite Late Run

Boston College men’s basketball did not have much in its favor entering its Tuesday night matchup against North Carolina. 

To win, the Eagles needed to conquer the ACC’s top scoring offense—and a starting lineup that features three players on the 2023 Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List—in one of college basketball’s most storied arenas, the Dean E. Smith Center, where the Tar Heels have yet to lose this season. BC surrendered 80-plus points in consecutive games prior to the contest and had not won a contest on the road all season. 

Despite a late 8–0 rally that brought BC within one point, these obstacles proved too much for the Eagles (8–11, 2–6 Atlantic Coast) to overcome, as they dropped their fourth straight game, falling to the Tar Heels (13–6, 5–3) by a final score of 72–64.

“It’s a long season,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “It’s a journey. You know, a lot of these guys are young—first-year players in the program—so we’re trying to build.”

Caleb Love strung together five straight points after BC’s late run, igniting the Tar Heels to pull away and put BC to rest amid a gritty game.

Early on in the contest, North Carolina’s offense gave the Eagles’ defense some trouble. Two Pete Nance 3-pointers put the Tar Heels ahead 8–2 less than four minutes into the game. Though the Eagles evened the score at eight points apiece via back-to-back layups from Quinten Post, they went cold in the ensuing minutes. 

The Tar Heels capitalized off a BC field goal drought that lasted five minutes and 16 seconds, pushing their lead up to nine points with under 10 minutes to play in the first half. Led by ACC Player of the Year contender Armando Bacot, North Carolina dominated the paint and feasted on the glass.   

“Bacot’s one of the most talented bigs in the country,” Grant said.

But as the Tar Heels threatened to pull away in the waning minutes of the first half, the Eagles refused to back down, as back-to-back Jaeden Zackery buckets knocked North Carolina’s lead down to 31–26 entering the second half.

Zackery kept BC in the game with 10 first-half points, serving as an effective counter against Bacot—who needed less than 20 minutes to notch his 11th double-double of the season. Grant said that Post, who was tasked with guarding Bacot, held his own, as well. 

“I thought [Post] was very good tonight—very effective, very efficient—and I thought it was an even battle [between Post and Bacot],” Grant said. “They were going back and forth at each other.”

And while Post finished with 17 points and five rebounds, it was all Bacot to start the second half. 

After the senior scored five quick points to open the half, RJ Davis splashed a pair of 3-pointers, and North Carolina grabbed a 10-point lead—its largest of the game at the time.

After picking up his fourth foul of the night at the 14:30 mark, Post headed to the bench, making the challenge of containing the Tar Heels’ formidable front court even more difficult. 

Post’s return to the floor, however, helped the Eagles complete an 8–0 run to cut North Carolina’s lead down to a single point with 6:07 in the game. 

But that was as close as BC would get. 

Post, who led the Eagles in scoring on Tuesday, fouled out two minutes later, sending Davis to the free throw line. Davis made both charity shots to extend the Tar Heels’ lead to eight points. 

“So we lost our poise a little bit,” Grant said. “They got loud, I didn’t get the timeout, didn’t call the timeout … the game got away from us.”

With under a minute left to play, North Carolina’s Leaky Black found Caleb Love all alone on a fast break, and Love threw down an uncontested reverse dunk to put an exclamation point on North Carolina’s eight-point victory. 

For the first time since November 2009, BC—the ACC’s worst 3-point shooting team—finished the game without a single made 3-pointer, as it missed all six of its attempts. 

“It’s hard,” Grant said. “It’d be nice to be 6-for-12, you know, but the good number is six. You know, we didn’t take a lot of them. If you’re not going to make a lot of them, you don’t want to take a lot of them—so the good number is six.”

January 17, 2023