Sports, Winter, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Fall 76–66 to No. 4 UNC

Leading up to the 2023–24 Boston College men’s basketball season, third-year head coach Earl Grant and his players were seeking a breakthrough season. 

“Year three is when you really expect to make that kind of leap,” senior Mason Madsen said back in November. 

Seven games into conference play, however, the Eagles (11–7, 2–5 Atlantic Coast) are still looking for that breakthrough. Saturday’s 76–66 loss to No. 4 North Carolina (15–3, 7–0) was just the latest reminder.

“It was a three-point game—we felt like we needed to try to get it all in that one play,” Grant said after the game. “We could have been a little bit more mature and looked for a better shot.”

Despite a respectable effort against a bona fide title contender, poor rebounding and shot selection ultimately sunk the Eagles. BC was outrebounded 43–28, while second-leading scorer Claudell Harris Jr. finished the game shooting 1 of 11. 

“I think that was the story of the game—just those three or four possessions on offense and not finishing rebounds on the glass,” Grant said.

BC opened the game unfazed by North Carolina’s top-five status. Devin McGlockton splashed some gasoline over an already fiery student section in the early minutes. The sophomore forward put up the game’s first four points and hit the floor hard in pursuit of a loose ball. 

“Our crowd—they’re really starting to care about basketball,” Grant said. “They’ve shown up more. They support these players. In order for your program to rise, you got to get some people interested.”

Feeding off the crowd’s energy, BC raced out to a 12–6 lead by the 13:49 mark. The Eagles pushed their way to the rim through sharp cutting and post-ups. Unlike in recent games, BC successfully dropped entry passes to Post, who scored 12 first-half points. 

The Eagles’ offense slowed around the 10-minute mark, however, surrendering control of the game to the Tar Heels. Taking advantage of late BC defensive rotations, North Carolina knocked down a series of open shots to take a 24–20 lead with 4:51 left to play in the half. 

“They did a better job of pressuring us, and I think we settled for some quick shots,” Post said.

While the first half wound down, BC ratcheted up its defensive intensity to offset its offensive woes. A pair of charging fouls drawn in the closing minutes kept the Eagles well within striking range, trailing 34–31 after 20 minutes. 

Often swarming him with double-teams near the rim, BC stifled North Carolina star Armando Bacot in the first half, holding him scoreless. 

“I’ve played these guys now for three years, so I know exactly what Bacot wants to do,” Post said. 

North Carolina looked to silence BC early to open the second half, building a game-high nine-point lead via a 6–0 run. The Eagles survived the early Tar Heels’ run and punched back with a 5–0 spurt of their own. 

Ticky-tack foul calls in the ensuing minutes grinded down the game’s pace and left much of the game’s remainder to be played out at the free-throw line. The Eagles found themselves in the bonus for the final 12:31 and took full advantage, hitting 25 of their 29 free-throw attempts. 

“It kind of broke up the whole game, [and] made it a very weird game to play,” Post said about the game’s officiating. 

As the game clock trickled into the single digits, BC struggled to string together buckets and break the stalemate. Yet again, the Eagles’ inability to truly get over the hump haunted them in the final minutes. At each turn, the Tar Heels matched every ounce of offensive momentum the Eagles generated. 

“We just needed stops, and we couldn’t get those,” Post said. 

Along with its defensive issues, BC’s 17.6 percent 3-point performance sealed the Eagles’ fate. 

“I thought we forced some shots,” Grant said. “And then, to be honest with you, we missed some open looks too. We missed the open looks that they usually make, and those guys will continue to make those shots.”

January 20, 2024