Since arriving in Chestnut Hill, Mass., transfer guard Claudell Harris Jr. had started in all three of Boston College men’s basketball’s games this season and recorded double-digit scoring twice. But he hadn’t truly taken over a game like he did on Saturday in Conte Forum.
Harris tallied a season-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and hit two late-game 3-pointers amid a 13–0 BC run to overcome a Harvard squad that led by 10 points early in the second half. His 13 second-half points marked a team high.
“We’ve seen him play really well in the scrimmages,” BC head coach Earl Grant said of Harris. “That was more like how we saw him in the scrimmages. A lot of points. A lot of making tough, talented shots. Thought he was good all year. But that’s the best he’s been in a real game.”
Harris wasn’t alone, as Quinten Post and Jaeden Zackery also helped lead BC (4–0) to defeat the Crimson (4–1) 73–64 on Saturday night in front of a Taylor Swift–themed Conte Forum. The victory marked the Eagles’ fourth straight to open the 2023 season—their best start since the 2007–08 season.
Post, Zackery, and Harris combined for 57 points in the affair, good for 78 percent of BC’s scoring. Post also notched a career-high 19 rebounds and five blocks.
“It was good to see because that’s what we’re capable of, having multiple guys have really good games,” Grant said of the trio. “And the best thing about it. It was within the system, [and] wasn’t a lot of force shots.”
On the wrong side of an 8–0 run against Harvard three minutes into the second half, Harris swiftly notched two 3-pointers to put the Eagles back ahead 44–43. He then converted on a pull-up jumper to put BC up 64–61 with 3:50 left in the game—a lead BC never surrendered.
His stepback 3-pointer less than two minutes later put BC up by eight points, essentially sealing the win.
Harvard’s first major run, however, occurred in the first half, when the Crimson put together 13 straight points. BC—who only hit two 3-pointers in the first half—consistently passed up open shots from behind the arc, giving Harvard a chance to creep in. The Eagles chose to drive to the paint and take erratic, off-balance shots against the Crimson’s bigs.
After Harvard’s 10th straight point at the 9:44 mark of the first half, Post angrily called a BC timeout.
“I just thought the guys were just shooting shots too quickly,” Post said. “And I just wanted to calm us down, talk it over.”
Zackery, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists, was subbed out for the majority of that stretch for struggling guard Chas Kelley III. Heading into Saturday’s game, Kelley had scored only two points in 22 minutes. And against Harvard, Kelley often stalled BC’s offense, allowing the Crimson to put together runs. He finished with two points.
The Eagles’ bench as a whole finished with just seven points.
“I would like to see more from that unit,” Grant said. “But I just didn’t play a lot of the bench. The game didn’t really allow me. I tried in the first half. … and then in the second half, we shrunk the bench a little bit.”
Devin McGlockton ended Harvard’s run with a layup, but the reliable forward only finished with five points, as he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, forcing Grant to sit him.
BC responded with an 11–2 run, but Harvard finished the first half making four consecutive field goals to put the Eagles down 35–33 heading into halftime. There were five lead changes in the first half.
“We know no matter what the score is, you just got to persevere and just keep fighting,” Zackery said. “We knew what we were capable of. We knew coming in we were the stronger, better team. We just weren’t playing like that in the first half.”
The Eagles’ bench, however, did show up when it needed to in the second half. Freshman Elijah Strong, who hadn’t played since BC’s season opener against Fairfield, took a lot of McGlockton’s typical minutes. Strong brought an energy BC desperately needed, holding his own defensively while getting to the free throw line and notching two rebounds.
Rotation sharpshooter Mason Madsen finished with just four points in 19 minutes. But he managed to convert on two contested layups in the second half to protect BC’s narrow lead.
“I thought Mason Madsen, Elijah, Chas, all those guys came in and gave us good minutes,” Grant said. “Specifically Mason.”
Despite the second-half comeback, Post still said he thinks there is room for BC to improve after it garnered its fourth straight win at 73–64 over its cross-town foe.
“Obviously, we’re not playing to our full potential,” Post said. “But the fact that we’re coming on top and showing late in the game that we can close out a game, I think that’s big time.”