Matt Milon drained a late three to pull the Eagles within one. All of Conte erupted with the clock winding down; fans, teammates, and coaches stood on their feet, too nervous to sit. With five seconds left, BC had to come up with something to overtake 9th ranked UNC. Unfortunately, a few missed shots and not enough time led to the Tar Heels barely escaping Chestnut Hill with a 68-65 win Tuesday night.
Despite a valiant effort, which included leading UNC from the first basket until the four minute mark of the second-half, Boston College failed to pull off the ultimate upset, continuing a 11-game drought in ACC play.
When it came down to the wire, the Eagles revealed their weaknesses, which have prevailed consistently in league games. Their inability to maintain consistent play prevented them from holding off the Tar Heels in the final minutes.
“In the end, UNC made two [ ] bigger plays with the game on the line than we did when it came down to it,” said Jim Christian of his team's late game stumble.
With just under 7:00 remaining in the second half, BC still held strong, leading 56-51, but after that, it all went downhill. In a short minute, a careless foul by Sammy Barnes-Thompkins and then a turnover by Garland Owens allowed UNC to pull within one, the closest they had been all game.
The two teams then battled within two points of each other until the final minute, where a quick three by Marcus Paige and a jumper by Justin Jackson gave UNC its largest lead of the night at four points, 64-60, with under a minute left. Two more careless fouls by Barnes-Thompkins and a crucial turnover by Ervins Meznieks sealed the Eagles’ fate, sending the Tar Heels to the foul line, where they made four out of six shots in the final 30 seconds.
But to say that the Eagles did not go down without a fight would be putting it lightly. Both UNC assistant coach Steve Robinson and BC’s Jim Christian acknowledged BC’s tremendous play and stated that the boys played their hearts out. Boston College provided North Carolina its largest half-time deficit of the season at six points and nearly handed the team its third straight loss, by a program with a losing record and zero wins in ACC play.
Fast transitions and a steady offense ignited the Eagles from the tip-off, fueling their play and forcing the Tar Heels to play catch up. Thrown off by BC’s energy, the Tar Heels could not find their rhythm in the first half (and for most of the second) and BC’s defense capitalized on their unsteadiness. Adding on to the Tar Heels' momentary collapse was a scare midway into the second period when UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams, exited the game early due to an onset of vertigo; however, he was deemed okay following the match.
Eli Carter led all scorers with 26 points and was the dynamite to the BC offense, seemingly everywhere around the UNC zone. Staying out of foul trouble proved effective for Dennis Clifford, whose ability to remain on the court led him to a standout game with 14 points and 13 rebounds, six more than UNC’s star forward Kennedy Meeks.
While BC remains winless in ACC play, their “refuse to lose” determination was nothing short of amazing, and the Eagles proved that they have the fight and potential to hang with the top teams in arguably college basketball’s toughest league.
UNC may have narrowly avoided a 3-game slip with their win in Chestnut Hill; however, the Eagles’ next opponent better be weary of a reeling, unsatisfied BC team looking for revenge this Sunday against Syracuse.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.