Sports, Top Story, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Eagles Earn First NIT Win Since 2011 with 62–57 Victory Over Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. During last week’s ACC Tournament, Boston College men’s basketball’s leading scorer Quinten Post said he was approaching his final collegiate games with an increased level of urgency.

“I told the guys, ‘I’m not ready to be done,'” Post said following the Eagles’ second-round win over Clemson

That urgency appeared to turn into desperation with less than five minutes left in the Eagles’ first-round NIT matchup against Providence. Both Post and Devin McGlockton had recorded four fouls each, leaving BC’s frontcourt heavily depleted.

But instead of panicking, Elijah Strong saw opportunity. 

Strong, who had recorded double-digit minutes only twice before entering Tuesday’s matchup, put up seven points in crunch time—a run that included his third collegiate 3-pointer.

“This has just been a moment I’ve been waiting for all season,” Strong said after the game. “[BC head coach Earl Grant has] been telling me, ‘Stay ready all season, keep my head.’ I just let my confidence take over in that moment.”

On the back of their true freshman forward, the Eagles (20–15, 8–12 Atlantic Coast) escaped Amica Mutual Pavilion with their first postseason win since the 2010–11 season, defeating the Friars 62–57. 

“This is such a big accomplishment for us, especially where Boston College has been in the past couple of years,” Strong said.

In a stark contrast to his performance last week, Post needed some time to get started. He didn’t record his first points of the game until the 12:47 mark, preventing BC from establishing a steady advantage in the early minutes. 

While the Eagles’ 7-footer remained largely dormant on the offensive end, Post didn’t help himself on the defensive end either. With 5:51 left in the first half, Post recorded his third personal foul, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the half.

“I’m very frustrated we didn’t do more with him on the bench,” Providence head coach Kim English said.

Despite Post’s absence, BC still managed to produce a 31–30 halftime lead. The Eagles held Providence scoreless in the final 2:08, while McGlockton chipped in a team-high 11 first-half points.

Though neither team gave an inch after halftime, both offenses grinded to a near halt midway through the second half—one that included a 1-of-8 BC stretch and a 4:07 Providence scoring drought. 

Up until the game’s final 30 seconds, neither team could claim a lead larger than four points.

Strong eventually injected life into BC’s offense and quieted the Friars’ crowd by drilling a critical three with 4:27 remaining in regulation. The freshman finished the game with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting. 

“Elijah, he’s been working for this moment,” Grant said. “He’s a winner. He’s a winning piece.”

While Strong continued to put the Eagles on his back down the stretch, Claudell Harris Jr. finished the job for BC.

After Harris nailed a clutch three to put BC up 60–57, the Eagles were just a stop away from victory. Jaeden Zackery put together a clutch final defensive possession and locked down Jayden Pierre, leaving Harris Jr. an opening. Harris Jr. took advantage, plucking away the ball and securing the win for the Eagles. 

“As Coach Grant calls it, ‘Get your knife in there—got to get your knife bloody,’” Harris said of his game-sealing steal. “I seen him turn his head, and when he swung back, I was right there, and the ball was just in my hand.”

Beyond being its first postseason win in over a decade, BC’s triumph over the Friars also secured the program its first 20-win season since 2011. As they look toward their second-round matchup, the Eagles have won five of their last six games.

“We try to climb our program to the top, so this was a step for us,” Grant said. “We just got to keep building.”

March 19, 2024