BC makes noise, can't close out Orange
January, 14, 2014
By Jack McCluskey | ESPN.com
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- With about 16 minutes left in the game Monday night, Conte Forum was as loud as it’s been for a basketball game in a long while.
Ryan Anderson muscled up a layup, got the whistle, punched the air and screamed “Let’s go!” after the ball fell through the net. The and-1 put Boston College up by six over No. 2 Syracuse, and sensing an improbable upset, the 8,606 in attendance had the Eagles’ arena rocking.
When Anderson added a dunk off an Olivier Hanlan feed two possessions later to give BC its largest lead at eight, the crowd exploded again and Orange coach Jim Boeheim called time.
“It was awesome in Conte tonight,” BC sharpshooter Lonnie Jackson said. “I was just having fun out there, locked into the game and the competitiveness of the game. At one point we were up by eight, and then we kind of slowed down a little bit.
“But having that fan support and that noise really helped us.”
On paper, this game seemed about as big a mismatch as you could draw up.
The Orange came into the game 16-0 and ranked second in the country, while the Eagles came in 5-11 on the season. Boeheim’s crew had won 11 of 16 by double-digit margins, while Donahue’s bunch had lost seven of its 16 games by 10 or more.
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaEddie Odio and the Eagles had Syracuse on the ropes for a while.
Then they threw the ball up and something surprising happened: a certain rout by the visitors turned into a close game.
Though the Eagles turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and 16 times for the game, leading to 19 Orange points -- including six on three breakaway dunks by Trevor Cooney in one sequence late in the first half -- BC made up for the miscues by hitting 9-for-21 on 3-pointers.
Jackson had a big hand in that. The junior hit the game-winning 3 at Virginia Tech on Saturday and didn’t lose the hot hand on the trip home, hitting big shot after big shot from behind the arc Monday.
“We knew from the last game that the guy could shoot the ball and we just didn’t find him,” Boeheim said of Jackson. “And part of it was we were trapping and we had good traps and they made two great plays to get out of traps, and not only get out of the traps but get him the ball with a cross-court pressure pass, and he stuck it.”
On one play, Joe Rahon was trapped on the left side of the court and threw a wild cross-court pass to Jackson in front of the BC bench. The 6-foot-3, 178-pounder leapt to catch the pass and when he landed, his heels were nearly on the sideline.
No matter. Jackson launched again and swished his sixth 3 of the night, putting BC up 50-44.
The Eagles were riding high with 11:57 left to play, but little did they know that would be their last field goal until 44 seconds remained in the game. Syracuse used increased defensive pressure and big plays from Tyler Ennis, C.J. Fair and Cooney to take control of the game and escape Chestnut Hill with a 69-59 win.
“I was real proud of our effort,” Donahue said. “I thought we really followed the game plan. I thought we fought, we competed. Obviously we had bad spurts and that’s a credit to Syracuse and what they bring to the table every game. And a couple of those spurts just really hurt us.”
The loss dropped BC to 5-12 (1-3 ACC), but may prove a boost to the Eagles’ once-sagging confidence.
“We know we’re a really good team,” Jackson said. “We’re just trying to build off each game. It was kind of rough early on in the season. But we just know we’re confident in ourselves and we can play with anybody in this league.
“So we’re just trying to stay in that mindset and stay together.”
If the Eagles can produce more runs like the good spurts against the Orange on Monday night, and fewer of the bad ones, chances are they will have Conte Forum rocking again this season. And next time, they may just keep the noise going ’til the very end.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.