Men's Basketball, Basketball, Winter, Sports

Bickerstaff and Penha’s Heroics Fall Short, Eagles Drop Final Regular Season Game to Georgia Tech

Though injuries plagued Boston College men’s basketball to start its season, the Eagles’ recent improved health allowed BC to generate some much-needed rotational continuity. The consistency has paid dividends in recent weeks, as BC entered its final regular season matchup against Georgia Tech on a three-game win streak. 

That all changed just 2:42 into Saturday’s game against the Yellow Jackets at Conte Forum.

After suffering an apparent leg injury, Quinten Post—BC’s leading scorer entering the game— had to be helped off the floor, screaming in frustration. The seven-footer was immediately ruled out of the game. 

“His impact he’s had on the team, not just as a scorer, but, you know, leadership, and how he was talking, having a good feel for the game—I think [Post’s injury] impacted the guys,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. 

And despite a resilient effort from T.J. Bickerstaff and CJ Penha Jr., who combined for 28 points, Post’s absence proved too much for the Eagles to overcome. BC (15–16, 9–11 Atlantic Coast) dropped its final regular season game to the Yellow Jackets (14–17, 6–14) by a final score of 73–65. 

“Our guys did a great job,” Grant said. “You know, very winnable game with the guys we had—thought they played hard, did some good stuff. We just needed to be a little bit better.”

Georgia Tech showed off its range in the opening minutes, knocking down its first three attempts from deep to establish a quick 9–0 lead.  

But BC, playing with a senior-heavy lineup on Senior Day while donning its Red Bandana

Jerseys for First Responder & Health Care Heroes Day, displayed some resolve in the ensuing minutes, taking its first lead of the game at the 14:33 mark via a 12–2 run. Six of those points came from graduate Penha, who made his first start since Dec. 6 against New Hampshire. Penha totaled 13 points in the game, his most since Dec. 13 against Stonehill when he registered 15 points.

Bickerstaff did the dirty work for the Eagles in the first half by battling on the glass and securing contested buckets in the paint. The senior forward put up eight of his season-high 15 points in the first half, while accounting for five of his team’s 16 first-half rebounds. 

“I thought TJ would play good, as well,” Grant said. “He’s from Georgia, it’s a big game for him.”

As the half wound down, Jaeden Zackery came alive, scoring five straight points to cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 29–28 with 3:29 left in the half. 

A late Zackery basket was overshadowed by a prior Georgia Tech 7–0 run, and BC entered halftime down 36–30.

The senior duo of Bickerstaff and Penha continued to spark the Eagles’ offense to start the second half, scoring BC’s first 10 points to tie the game at 40 points apiece at the 15:43 mark. Penha followed Bickerstaff’s game-tying free throw with an emphatic, leaping block. 

“I thought both of those guys did a great job,” Grant said. 

With under 14 minutes to play, Prince Aligbe dropped in a fastbreak layup to push BC ahead for the first time in the half, sending Eagles’ fans to their feet. Aligbe joined in on the block party the next play, spiking a Lance Terry layup attempt off the backboard. 

A pair of 3-pointers from Makai Ashton-Langford and Mason Madsen midway through the half gave BC a 55–46 lead, its largest of the game. That lead quickly vanished, however, after the Yellow Jackets drained three unanswered 3-pointers amid an 11–0 run with Zackery on the bench. 

“They really made some timely shots from three,” Grant said. “I thought, you know, we had a couple of turnovers that were unforced, that we wish we could have back.”

Though both teams were tied up 63–63 at the 2:13 mark, consecutive Georgia Tech 3-pointers in the final two minutes proved to be the dagger, sending fans to the exits early and stunting BC’s late-season momentum ahead of next week’s ACC Tournament. 

“It’s a new season,” Grant said. “As much as I would like to harp on the Georgia Tech game, we got to move on pretty quickly. The regular season is over. We can’t get that back.” 

March 5, 2023