Sports, Winter, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Zackery Helps Eagles Avoid Disaster in 75–71 Win Over The Citadel

With just over a minute left in the game between Boston College men’s basketball and The Citadel, Jaeden Zackery drove into the paint going full speed. Zackery converted his power into masterful touch at the last second, banking the ball softly off the backboard with his inside hand to give the Eagles a three-point advantage—a lead BC would not relinquish. 

“[Zackery] is just a steady hand,”  BC head coach Earl Grant said. “He’s consistent, he stepped up. He was a leader tonight. He was aggressive, he was confident. And you know, he really kind of put everyone on his back. He was very vocal.”

Quinten Post, fresh off a 31-point performance during Monday’s home opener, accumulated two fouls in the first four minutes of the game, forcing Grant to sit the 7-footer for the majority of the first half, which created room for Zackery to step into the lead role.

“I’m the older guy on the team, so I had to take that role, be more vocal, and kind of just lead us through the adversity,” Zackery, who scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, said.  

Zackery helped BC (2–0) avoid disaster in Charleston, S.C. on Friday night, as the Eagles defeated The Citadel (0–2) 75–71 despite being down at halftime. 

The junior guard didn’t take long to heat up, as Zackery scored only a minute into the game on a jump shot from the right elbow. 

“I feel like seeing your first shot go in—that kind of gives you confidence going through the rest of the game,” Zackery said. “In warmups I was feeling good, and then I hit the first shot. So from there I felt like I just kept being aggressive.” 

Sophomore Donald Hand Jr. also stepped up in a tight game defined by clutch shots from both teams. Midway through the first half, Hand created space with a quick spin move up the lane, losing his defender completely and finishing left-handed at the rim to put BC ahead 17–14. 

“I do it quite often in practice—to do it in the game, it felt good,” Hand, who finished with 14 points, said. “My teammates were excited for me.” 

Despite Hand and Zackery’s performances, the Bulldogs stayed in the game throughout the first half, largely thanks to freshman Keynan Davis, who had four first-half 3-pointers. He finished with 12 points and three assists.

Davis helped lead the Bulldogs to shoot 40 percent from behind the arc, compared to the Eagles’ 26.7 percent. 

“They had a couple freshmen and guys who don’t necessarily shoot a good percentage step up and make some shots tonight,” Grant said.

During multiple stretches throughout the game, both teams appeared sloppy as they lacked rhythm and consistent playcalling. Bodies hit the floor as deflected passes and lost handles created in-game chaos that mirrored the rowdy crowd, affecting BC’s composure. But Post notched a layup to cut The Citadel’s lead to 38–35 heading into halftime.

“It’s a military academy, it’s Veterans Day,” Grant said. “Great atmosphere, a lot of energy, and a lot of cadets screaming and making a lot of noise.” 

The second half consisted of back-and-forth play as the momentum shifted between the two programs. Each time it seemed the Eagles would break away, the Bulldogs went on an equalizing scoring run. 

Grant emphasized the importance of finding a flow offensively going forward. 

“[We need to] continue to, offensively, find ways to get the ball into the right guys in the right place at the right time,” Grant said.

Hand converted a tough and-1 over three defenders with just under six minutes remaining, which gave the Eagles a 67–61 lead. The Citadel’s AJ Smith, however, answered immediately with a baseline jumper to cut BC’s lead to four.

But with 17 seconds to play with BC ahead 75–71 off two Zackery free throws, Davis couldn’t convert on a 3-pointer, and the Eagles walked away with a win.

November 11, 2023