Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Rally Behind Mason Madsen’s 25 Points to Defeat Miami 85–77

Through the first two seasons of Earl Grant’s tenure as Boston College men’s basketball’s head coach, the Eagles were hardly equipped to win 3-point shootouts, especially against a team like Miami. In both of those seasons, BC finished no higher than 14th in the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage. That lackluster perimeter offense was particularly glaring in BC’s 88–72 blowout loss to the Hurricanes on Jan. 13, 2023, in which Miami notched 12 threes. 

This season, however, has fared far differently for the Eagles. BC entered its Saturday afternoon matchup against Miami ranked eighth in the conference with a 35.7 percent 3-point percentage—a nearly four-point uptick from a season ago. And unlike that loss from a season ago, the Eagles (15–10, 6–8 Atlantic Coast) went shot-for-shot with the Hurricanes (15–11, 6–9), outlasting Miami 85–77. 

“The makeup of our team obviously is a little different this year,” Mason Madsen said after the game. “And like I said, we needed every shot we made, and so it’s not always what we’ve hung our hat on, but I think to be able to win games in different ways speaks volumes about this team.”

Madsen was front and center in the Eagles’ 3-point barrage, knocking down seven of BC’s 15 threes. The senior guard posted a career-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, a milestone made especially special given his health struggles over the past few seasons.

“Just the ups and downs in my career and sometimes questioning, ‘Is this really worth it?’” Madsen said. “Because, obviously, there was a time where I was in pain everyday. I don’t really have words to give you, but it’s really awesome.”

The Eagles raced out to an 18–7 start, behind 3-pointers from Madsen, Quinten Post, and Jaeden Zackery—a sign of the blistering 3-point performance that would soon follow. Given the Eagles’ recent slew of slow starts, BC’s early advantage marked a welcome improvement, according to Post. 

“We talked two days ago with just the team,” Post said. “We talked about how we need to progress in the season. We need to finish out strong, and one of the points was starting out stronger and I think we did that.”

While the Eagles’ 3-point offense has progressed significantly from last season, their perimeter defense has consistently lagged behind. BC entered Saturday’s game ranked 13th in the conference in opponent 3-point percentage, and it showed for much of the game.

The Hurricanes drained eight 3-pointers of their own in the first half to pull even by halftime, 41–41. 

“Miami didn’t go away,” Grant said. “They got loose with some open threes. That’s very typical of them. They make a lot of threes, and when a game gets up-tempo fast, they really want to convert.”

Both offenses chugged along as the second half kicked off, but Miami claimed a 73–68 lead with just over five minutes to play. Instead of folding, though, BC exploded for an 11–0 run and held the Hurricanes to only four points and a single field goal in the final five minutes. 

“We switched our defense to an Amoeba,” Grant said. “We went to a matchup zone, 2-2-1, back to the Amoeba, and I thought we got three or four critical stops back-to-back-to-back. They lost some of their rhythm.”

Madsen capped off the game for the Eagles with a pair of made free throws—a fitting scene in which the energized Conte Forum crowd showered him with “MVP” chants. 

“The people that come—they come every game, and they’re really passionate and I think that that means a lot to us,” Madsen said. “We have a core of like 20 people who are really solid. We appreciate that for sure.”

The win moved the Eagles a few rungs up in the ACC’s congested middle class. Grant, however, said he is unbothered by the standings, focused only on what he and his team can control. 

“I don’t want to start looking at it and start counting and trying to talk about results,” Grant said. “I want to continue to work on the process of becoming a good team. We said we want to be our best in March. We got two more weeks to get better. So that’s our goal—play our best basketball in March.”

February 18, 2024