Trap games are a common enemy of coaches across any team sport.
And Boston College men’s basketball’s Wednesday night matchup against Louisville had “trap game” written all over it.
The Eagles—having suffered a pair of Quadrant 4 losses already this season—couldn’t afford to overlook the Cardinals, who entered the contest at the bottom of the ACC standings and winless in conference play.
Though Louisville caught BC sleepy and flat-footed in the first 20 minutes, the Eagles (10–11, 4–6 Atlantic Coast) weathered their slow first half to topple the Cardinals (2–18, 0–9) in Chestnut Hill by a final score of 75–65, led by Quinten Post’s 22 points and Jaeden Zackery’s 14 second-half points.
“[Louisville] shot the ball really well in the first half,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “And we weren’t executing or working hard enough to get the best shot. … We kind of really anchored the game in the middle of the second half.”
And while Louisville shot 60 percent from the field in the first half, the ACC’s two worst offenses traded misses in the opening 2:38 of the game.
Post—who recorded a career-high 29 points in BC’s win in South Bend four days earlier—ignited the Eagles’ offense, scoring BC’s first four points.
Louisville countered with a 11–0 run, knocking down three 3-pointers in the first five minutes en route to an early 19–7 lead. Mike James fueled the Cardinals’ early run, dropping 10 points in 10 minutes.
Four days after the Eagles put up their strongest 3-point shooting performance of the season against Notre Dame, BC’s woes from deep reemerged in ugly fashion. The Eagles missed 10 of their first 11 shots from beyond the arc.
Injuries added salt to BC’s wound as the first half grinded to a close, with starters Post and DeMarr Langford Jr. heading to the bench after suffering minor injuries.
With Post returning wearing a protective face mask and Langford Jr. still in the locker room, Louisville’s Sydney Curry silenced the home crowd by throwing down a vicious dunk over Devin McGlockton with 4:19 left in the first half.
Post later injected some life back into Conte Forum with an emphatic two-hand dunk just 21 seconds before halftime. Prince Aligbe blew a buzzer-beating layup opportunity in the closing seconds, and the Eagles trailed 35–29 heading into the locker room at halftime.
“[Grant] tells us that middle eight is what we got to win every game,” Zackery, who finished with 15 points, said. “That last four minutes of the first half and the next four of the next half. So, that’s what we did.”
Makai Ashton-Langford kept BC afloat in the first half, scoring 15 of the Eagles’ 29 points on 58.3 percent shooting.
“We know we can rely on him to keep us in the game and that’s what he did in the first half,” Zackery said of Ashton-Langford’s first half. “Because everybody was struggling besides him.”
BC rattled off five straight points to start the second half, trimming the Cardinals’ lead down to one point.
Louisville, however, responded with a 5–0 run of its own.
Down seven with under 15 minutes to play, the Eagles roared back into the game and reclaimed the lead via a 10–0 run. Once again, Post found himself in the middle of the action and shook the home crowd awake by nailing a 3-pointer that put BC ahead by one.
“I feel like QP’s been doing literally everything,” Zackery said. “Offense, defense—he’s just so communicative.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Zackery and a pair of free throws from Post established a six-point BC lead at the 8:05 mark, but Louisville didn’t go down quietly.
Though the Cardinals threatened BC’s lead in the final minutes, their inability to neutralize the Eagles’ distance shooters—who came alive late—stalled any comeback attempt.
Post submitted his second straight 20-plus point game and recorded six rebounds. Ashton-Langford added 21 points.
After the game, Grant credited BC’s fans for aiding his team’s comeback.
“The students were here,” Grant said. “They’re really going to help us move this program in the right direction if they continue to have that type of support.”