Sports, Winter, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Can’t Overcome First-Half Deficit, Fall 76–71 to Virginia Tech

Despite trailing for much of the game, Boston College men’s basketball got some wind in its sails with 4:33 left to play in its Tuesday night matchup against Virginia Tech. A tough Jaeden Zackery layup pulled the Eagles within two points—as close as they had been to the Hokies all half. 

But just over a minute later, virtually all of BC’s momentum seemed to disintegrate. 

After Sean Pedulla cashed in a 3-point heave to just barely beat the shot clock, Zackery turned the ball over on the other end. One Pedulla jumper later and the Eagles were right back where they were in the minutes prior—down seven points.  

“Pedulla willed his team to that win,” BC head coach Earl Grant said. “He had two crucial baskets late. He willed his team to that win. They were both contested and very difficult shots.”

Much like its last game against North Carolina, BC (11–8, 2–6 Atlantic Coast) struggled to break through in the closing minutes, falling to the Hokies (12–7, 4–4) by a final score of 76–71. Unlike its last game, though, BC did itself no favors in the first half, falling behind by as many as 13 points in the opening half. 

“You just find yourself digging yourself out of a hole,” Grant said. “You’re down 12 or 13 on the road, you got the crowd all stacked against you, and you don’t really have any of your fans.” 

Weak Eagles perimeter defense—a trend that has plagued BC both this season and throughout the entirety of Grant’s tenure as head coach—propelled Virginia Tech to a 44–33 lead. The Hokies converted on six of their 12 first-half 3-point attempts, taking advantage of a series of open looks. 

Despite a strong start, BC’s offense faltered as the first half wound down. The Eagles lost nine turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and often settled for contested shots from deep. 

“We had a couple rushed shots—maybe a few, not a lot,” Grant said. “But then it was more the turnovers.”

Prior to the game, Grant adjusted the dynamics of the offense, replacing Claudell Harris Jr. with Chas Kelley III in the two-guard slot. Harris finished 1 of 11 in BC’s last matchup on Saturday, a slump Grant cited as the reason for the Charleston Southern transfer’s benching. 

“He’s had big games, scored the ball well, and then he had a couple tough games,” Grant said. “I just tried to help him. ‘Hey look, watch the game the first few minutes, let the game settle down, and then we’ll get you in.’”

BC found some offensive rhythm to begin the second half. Led by strong interior finishing from Devin McGlockton, the Eagles chipped away at their halftime deficit and made it a one possession game with under five minutes to play. The redshirt sophomore posted a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds.

As the game clock slipped below 30 seconds, BC cut its deficit to two again, following Harris’s third triple of the night. But a missed Harris free throw with 15 seconds remaining all but ended the Eagles’ hopes for their sixth double-digit comeback of the season. 

“I thought the last few minutes was really good,” Grant said. “I think the second half was really good. … We were down one with two minutes to go. We were down 12 at half, so the second half was great.”

The loss marked BC’s fifth in seven games and continued the Eagles’ ACC troubles. 

“We just need this group to all put it together at the same time,” Grant said of his team’s path forward. “I mean, I think that’s what we’re missing. We haven’t seen much of that this season, but I’m still believing that’s gonna happen at some point.”

January 24, 2024