Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Overcome Late 10–0 Run, Upset No. 20 Clemson

With 7:42 remaining in regulation, Boston College men’s basketball and No. 20 Clemson were tied at 45 apiece amid a 10–0 Tigers run.

It’s a story BC has already seen this season—play it close for most of the game but let a potential victory slip away in the final minutes. So with the Eagles in a scoring drought that lasted six minutes and 46 seconds, the Tigers seemed poised to stave off BC’s upset. 

But led by Makai Ashton-Langford’s late heroics and a stingy team defensive showing, BC (11–12, 5–7 Atlantic Coast) overcame the Clemson (18–5, 10–2) run and pulled off a 62–54 upset over the Tigers—the ACC’s top-ranked team—in Conte Forum. 

“Got to win the next couple possessions,” BC head coach Earl Grant said of his message to the team during Clemson’s late run. “You know, got to get stops, got to finish the possession.” 

Earl Grant, pictured above, is in his second season as BC’s head coach.

The win marks BC’s third victory in its past four games.

“This is another step forward for us,” Jaeden Zackery said. “We don’t care who’s ranked, who’s at the top of the ACC, middle, bottom, because it’s gonna come out and be a competitive game.”

The Eagles’ win also marked their second ranked win of the season—their highest total since the 2017–18 season—and it came without starting guard DeMarr Langford Jr., who was out with a knee injury he suffered against Virginia on Jan. 28. 

“Compliment to our guys,” Ashton-Langford said. “They dug deep, guys stepped up, it’s always next man up.” 

In the opening minutes, though, it was Clemson who was on top. Despite airballing his first shot attempt, a pair of 3-pointers from Hunter Tyson helped Clemson capture an 8–2 edge four minutes into the game. The Eagles’ offense couldn’t get out of its own way with off-target and fumbled passes, and they missed their first five field goal attempts of the game. 

Clemson’s offense, meanwhile, hummed along to a 19–8 lead by the halfway point of the first half. 

But BC responded with an 8–0 run, fueled by 3-pointers from Jaeden Zackery and Mason Madsen. The Eagles also tightened up their defense, forcing a shot-clock violation amid the run. 

Ashton-Langford led the charge for BC, recording a block in transition just before knocking down a mid-range jumper with 3:48 left in the first half for the Eagles’ first lead of the night. He finished the game with a team-high 15 points. 

“Coach always preaches ‘be gritty,’” Ashton-Langford said. “And we definitely did that throughout the game and then down the stretch.”

The Eagles made Clemson pay in transition, scoring back-to-back fast-break layups off steals.  And the Tigers’ offense stalled, going scoreless in the final 3:25 of the first half. 

BC recorded seven first-half steals en route to a 22–4 run to close the half, with Zackery’s 13 first-half points putting the Eagles ahead 30–23 after 20 minutes. 

“I feel like a lot this season, we’ve kind of just been half here, half there—like not having a complete game,” Zackery said. “So I felt like, having an off game last game, I had to come out and just play aggressive.”

BC needed just 12 seconds to push its lead to double digits, as Ashton-Langford opened the second-half scoring with a layup. 

But just like Clemson did in the first half, BC allowed the Tigers to remain in the game. 

With 10:13 left to play, the Eagles’ 45–41 lead suffered a blow when referees called Quinten Post for his fourth foul, forcing T.J. Bickerstaff, who finished with seven rebounds, to replace Post.

Post’s exit came amid a 10–0 Clemson run and a 6:46 BC scoring drought, with the Tigers knotting up the score at 45 points apiece with just under eight minutes to play. 

Quinten Post, pictured above, finished with 10 points against Clemson on Tuesday, his ninth-straight game scoring in double figures.

But the Eagles punched right back with five straight points and entered the final three minutes ahead 50–45.

Though Clemson missed 17 straight field goals from the 12:41 mark to the 0:17 mark in the second half, the Tigers remained in the game by knocking down free throws—they were 16-of-16 from the line on the game.

But with under a minute to play in regulation, Ashton-Langford—BC’s veteran guard—delivered in the clutch. 

First came a contested layup to make it a two-possession game with 1:47 to play.

“I had tunnel vision at that point just to get to the basket,” Ashton-Langford said. “Made a big time play in a big time moment.”

The graduate guard then came up with another layup and hit two subsequent free throws to put the Eagles ahead 56–49 and seal the upset victory. 

The win, according to Grant, spoke to his players’ hard work. 

“You can’t go out there and do that by accident,” Grant said. “So give the credit, you know, to the players for showing up every day and working hard and giving good efforts and embracing the suck.”

February 1, 2023