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Takeaways: Eagles Lose to Wake Forest, Drop to 0-2 in ACC Play

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Recap:

On Tuesday night, Wake Forest handed Boston College its fourth loss of the season in disheartening fashion. After taking a 40-36 lead into halftime, the Eagles struggled on both ends of the floor in the second half, ending the game with an 84-78 loss to the Demon Deacons. For the Eagles, Quinten Post had 20 points, and Claudell Harris Jr. and Devin McGlockton each added 15 of their own. However, it wasn’t enough, as Wake Forest saw four players score 13 or more points. The Eagles got off to a hot start in the first half, and found themselves up 34-24 with 4:51 to go in the half. But the Demon Deacons were able to go on a run before halftime, and carry their momentum into the second half, finding themselves up 77-67 with 3 minutes to play. A heroic last ditch effort by Harris came up just short, and Boston College dropped to 0-2 in ACC play. 

A Tale of Two Halves:

Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest was truly a tale of two halves for both teams. In the first frame, BC was firmly in control of the game, setting the tone with their stifling defense and excellent shot-making. Post dominated both ends of the floor, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the first 20 minutes, and blocking two shots at the rim. Jaeden Zackery looked to be at the top of his game in the first half, scoring both inside and out. Zackery also played his patented defense, drawing two offensive fouls in the first half. 

However, as previously mentioned, Wake Forest was able to turn things around coming out of the locker room. After the Eagles went up 43-36 on the first possession of the half, Wake responded with a 13-2 run to take a 49-45 lead. Outside of McGlockton’s scoring, the Eagles were not able to get much going on the offensive end, and struggled to get the same open looks they saw in the first half. After shooting nearly 50% in the first half, the Eagles shot just 35% in the second half. Post shot just 1-5 in the second frame, and Zackery was held scoreless. 

On the defensive end, the Eagles couldn’t touch their intensity from the first half. After holding Wake to 44% shooting in the first half, the Deacs were able to convert 62% of their second half field goal attempts.  Most notably, in the second half alone, Wake Forest’s Cam Hildreth scored 14 points on 6-8 shooting, and the Eagles allowed Wake’s Efton Reid to score 11 on perfect shooting from the field. 

Questionable Timeout Usage:

Coach Grant’s timeout usage is so harped on within the BC Basketball fandom, it is hardly ever worth noting. But Grant’s timeout usage last Tuesday was particularly suspect, even by his standards. There were several key runs by Wake in this game that could have been mitigated by calling a timeout. First, after going up 34-24 in the first half, Wake Forest responded with a run to cut this lead to just four points going into the locker room. Next, coming out of the half, the Demon Deacons were able to put in 11 points before the first timeout on the floor. Fans might have liked to see Grant try to stop the bleeding at some point during either of these scoring outbursts by Wake. 

Lastly, and most suspect, Grant declined to call a timeout after Harris Jr. cut the Wake lead to 79-78 with 40 seconds left. Instead, Grant allowed his team to play out the possession on their own, which led to a defensive collapse and a wide-open three-pointer, which effectively put any hopes of a BC comeback to rest. When asked about his decision in the press conference, Grant defended his decision, saying he trusted his defense did not want to allow Wake coach Steve Forbes a chance to draw up a play during the timeout. 

Perhaps a timeout in this instance could have given Grant a chance to communicate his defense. Whatever the case, it does not appear that Grant will be changing his game management going forward.

Execution Down the Stretch:

In both ACC games this season, BC has had opportunities to win the game in the second half, and in both games, BC has failed to come out with a win. The parallels between the Eagles’ loss to NC State and Wake are almost scary. In both games, the Eagles struggled with free throws, suffered a back-breaking defensive breakdown in the final minutes, and even lost both games 84-78. Against NC State, BC missed 12 (!!) free throws in a game that went to overtime. Further, in a key possession when the Eagles had a lead in overtime, McGlockton over helped on defense, leaving his man open to knock down the go-ahead three. 

Similarly, on Tuesday night against Wake Forest, the Eagles went 15-22 (68.2%) from the free throw line. While this isn’t a horrible percentage, three of these seven misses came in key spots in the final 6:36 of the game. Then, on the final defensive possession of the game, McGlockton (again) helped off his man and let up the game-ending three. Hopefully the Eagles’ coaching staff will be able to address both issues in practice going forward. 

Player Highlights: 

While this loss to Wake was incredibly disappointing, there are still several positives fans can pull from this game. First, Devin McGlockton proved he can be an elite player in the ACC. While I was hard on him for his defense in the previous section, the sophomore forward played one of the best games of his career. Against a very long Wake Forest team, McGlockton scored 15 points on 5-7 shooting, and pulled down 9 rebounds (7 on the offensive glass!). The sophomore’s stats continue to climb, as McGlockton is now averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds on the year. 

Next, as mentioned earlier, Post looked absolutely dominant in the first half, scoring 14 points in the first half. Post stuffing the stat sheet is nothing new to Eagles’ fans, but the way he scored was awe-inspiring. The seven-footer was attacking his matchup, and getting whatever he wanted on offense. Unfortunately for the Eagles, this game was a tale of two halves. In the second half, Wake was eventually able to wear the big man down, as he played all 20 minutes, and saw his play suffer as a result. If the Eagles want to see Post at his best, it is absolutely necessary that they find a way to stay afloat so he can catch his breath.

Lastly, I would be journalistic malpractice if I failed to mention Harris’ absurd scoring in the closing minutes of the game. The junior guard scored 10 of his 15 points in the final three minutes of the game, and nearly brought the Eagles’ back from the dead. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough. Nonetheless, Harris Jr. showed that he is always a threat to score and is emerging as an excellent scoring option behind Post. 

What’s Next:

The Eagles return to action Saturday afternoon, when they will take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Georgia Tech is 8-5 on the year, and 1-1 in conference play, but they do hold ranked wins over Duke and Mississippi State. So, Saturday should be a great test for the Eagles, who will look to get back to their winning ways. Following Saturday’s game, the Eagles’ road trip continues with a trip up north to Syracuse on Wednesday. Then, BC takes on 16th-ranked Clemson on Saturday the 13th down in South Carolina. The Eagles return to Conte Forum on Monday the 15th for a matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If the Eagles want to keep their postseason hopes alive, it will be crucial to pick up some wins on the road.

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Florida State 84, Boston College 76: Eagles struggle to defend Seminoles

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Boston College fell to Florida State 84-76 Tuesday night in Tallahassee, as despite a quick start scoring-wise the Eagles struggled to defend a similarly-hot-handed Seminoles team that dropped the Eagles to 6-9 in conference play.

It was back-and-forth very early on, with the first missed shot of the game not coming until almost four minutes in. The first half ended in a high-scoring 43-43 knot.

Things stayed even until roughly the halfway mark of the second half when FSU went on a 10-0 run that gave them a 70-61 advantage, the largest lead of the entire game for both sides. That ended up being the deciding factor, as the Eagles were unable to get within less than eight from that point on.

BC had four players in double-figures for scoring-wise, getting just eight points from the bench. Jaeden Zackery led the way with 19 on 3-for-3 from 3-point range, while Mason Madsen hit four 3s and put up 14. Quinten Post tallied 15 with seven of those points coming from the charity strike and Devin McGlockton also put up 13 points. The lone starting five member not in double-digits was Claudell Harris, who went just 1-for-5 from beyond the arch inducing just seven points out of him.

Boston College will continue the road trip and take on NC State Saturday in Raleigh at 2:00 p.m. ET, with the Eagles hoping to avoid the double-digit mark of losses in ACC play. The Wolfpack are losers of three out of their last four, however.

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Takeaways: BC Defends Homecourt against Louisville and Miami

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Mason Madsen hitting one of his seven threes. Photo Courtesy of Canes County

Recap:

Last week, the Boston College Men’s Basketball team was able to defend home court twice: on Tuesday night against Louisville, and on Saturday afternoon against Miami. Late Tuesday night, the Eagles were able to overcome a sluggish start, and an empty Conte Forum, and beat the last-place Louisville Cardinals 89-77. The Eagles saw six players reach double figures in scoring, led by Claudell Harris Jr.’s 20 points,  Devin McGlockton’s 19 points, and Quinten Post’s 17 points. This win was especially crucial for BC, as they were coming off consecutive losses to FSU and Duke, and allowed the Eagles to stay in contact with the middle tier of the ACC. 

After taking down Louisville in a desolate Conte Forum, the Eagles returned to their home court on Saturday to a much different scene. With a much more fan-friendly tipoff time of 4PM, Conte played host to an excellent crowd for their matchup against Miami. And, to the delight of the Eagle-faithful, BC got off to a scorching hot start, taking an 18-7 lead early on. While the Hurricanes were able to even the score at halftime, and take as much as a five-point lead late in the second half, Mason Madsen’s hot hand, and Post’s dominance in the paint were enough to propel the Eagles to an 85-77 victory. 

Offensive Excellence:

After scoring just 62 against FSU and 65 against Duke, I was beginning to lose faith in Coach Grant’s offensive system. However, these past two games have been excellent offensive showings for the Eagles. Against Louisville, BC scored a remarkable 89 points on 56.7% from the field, and 47.8% from behind the arc. And it wasn’t that the Eags were knocking down uncharacteristically difficult shots. Grant’s offense was actually able to generate great looks for open shooters, racking up 21 assists in the process. 

While it might not have been surprising to see the Eagles rack up 89 points on the last place team in the ACC, it was certainly encouraging to see them follow up with a similar performance against Miami. In Saturday’s game, the offense put up 85 points on similarly efficient splits of 47.5% from the field and 50% (15-30!) from three. Madsen and Post led the way offensively, accounting for 15 of the Eagles’ 28 converted field goals. If Grant can keep the offense humming the way it has for the past two outings, each of the six games remaining on the schedule look very winnable. 

Madsen Madness:

Since being inserted into the starting lineup against Duke, Mason Madsen has been an absolute revelation for the Eagles. In the past three games, the Eagles are 2-1, with their lone loss coming away at Duke. Throughout that three game span, Madsen has led the Eagles in scoring, averaging 17 points per game. And the highlight of this stretch came in his 25-point performance against Miami, where he hit (possibly) the most important three-pointer of the Eagles’ season. 

Madsen absolutely torched the Hurricanes from behind the arc, knocking down a career-high seven three pointers en route to the win. With Madsen’s latest hot streak from three, he is now shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc, which is well above the 90th percentile in Division One. With Madsen now in the starting lineup, the Eagles now have three serious threats from behind the arc, with Post hitting 46.1% of his attempts, and Harris Jr. hitting 38.9% of his. The spacing and offensive flow of Grant’s new-look starting five is enormously better with Madsen in for Aligbe, but we will see if the Eagles can survive without Aligbe’s size and added rebounding. 

Defensive Concerns:

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders last week, I cannot help but be a bit concerned about the Eagles’ defense. In an interesting contrast to Grant’s first two seasons, where the Eagles hung their hats on their ability to defend, this iteration of the Eagles’ roster is much more capable offensively, but has shown some cracks on the defensive end. For example, BC gave up 47 first half points on 51% shooting against Louisville. While Louisville has shown some ability to score, there is no legitimate reason to allow the last place team in the ACC to run up the score like that. Thankfully, the Eagles woke up on defense in the second frame, only allowing 30 second half points. 

Next, against Miami, at times it felt like the Hurricanes could get whatever look they wanted on offense. The Hurricanes shot 56% in the first half, and frankly, it could have been much worse. The Eagles seemed flummoxed by the Hurricane’s pick and roll, and whenever Post was switched off of Miami’s Norchad Omier, it seemed to always result in an open shot. Though I will give Grant credit for switching to his “amoeba” defense down the stretch. While Miami was able to exploit the Eagle’s man-to-man defense, they struggled with the matchup-zone look in the waning minutes. BC’s defense down the stretch was the key to igniting their 17-4 run to end the game. 

Outlook on the Remaining Schedule:

Thanks to the Eagles’ 2-0 homestand, they are now in contact with the middle of the ACC. After falling to 13-10 (4-8 ACC) after Duke, they were in real danger of dooming themselves to the basement of the ACC. But, with eight teams within two games of each other in the ACC standings, the Eagles will have several opportunities to continue climbing the ladder. BC’s remaining schedule consists of road games against Florida State and NC State, a homestand against UVA and Pitt, and a pair of road games against Miami and Pitt.

The good news for the Eagles? All six of these games are extremely winnable. The bad news? All six of these games are also losable. The margin for error is razor thin in this final stretch of the regular season. But, if the Eagles can find a way to win 3-4 of these games, they could be in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament, and perhaps a bid to the NIT. 

What’s Next:

Boston College returns to action Tuesday night at 7PM, when they will take on the aforementioned Florida State Seminoles. After losing a gut-wrenching 63-62 game to the Seminoles in Conte Forum, the Eagles will be looking for revenge. This game also has severe implications for the ACC standings, as FSU holds a one-game lead over BC in the standings. The Seminoles open as 4.5-point favorites against the Eagles. 

A win would go a long way towards securing that first-round bye, but even more so for the energy surrounding the program. We just saw what a packed Conte Forum can look like against Miami. So it is imperative that the Eagles return home with some kind of momentum, and get fans invested in the team’s stretch run.

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Boston College 85, Miami 77: Mason Madsen hits career-highs in Eagles win over Hurricanes

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Mason Madsen had a day to remember for Boston College Saturday, as he led the Eagles past Miami with a career-high seven 3-pointers and 25 points. BC won, 85-77, as they kept the momentum from a quick start all the way through.

The Eagles were ahead fast and early, jumping out to an 18-7 lead just five minutes into the ballgame. Miami eventually caught up to them though in a back-and-forth, high-scoring battle — the Hurricanes tied it at 29-29 with 7:41 to go in the first half. They battled until the end of the half, when it was tied 41-41 after 20 minutes of play.

It remained back-and-forth but Miami began to gain an edge about halfway through the second half. They then held on to a lead from the 12-minute mark all the way to the three-minute mark, but the Eagles’ deficit didn’t get further than four points away from the Hurricanes. A Claudell Harris Jr. layup with three minutes to go made it 74-73 Eagles, and they added on from there. Madsen knocked down a 3 before a pair of Devin McGlockton converted free throws put them in front by six with a minute to go, and they held on to that lead with a few baskets made from both sides to give BC the 85-77 victory.

Quinten Post had 23 for the Eagles, a big night for him after he had been struggling the past few outings, also knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. Harris Jr. had 15 while Jaeden Zackery added 11 to go along with seven assists. McGlockton picked up a team-best 10 rebounds.

BC moves to 6-8 in conference play Tuesday night in Tallahassee as they take on Florida State with a 7 p.m. ET tip. They continue the road trip with a matchup against the Wolfpack a week from today, as NC State plays hosts to BC next Saturday afternoon in the 2:00 p.m. ET slot.

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