Hot off a five-game win streak, the Eagles were prepared for some more magic and another top-10 upset with just seconds to play.
Inbounding the ball with 3.1 seconds left from their own baseline, the Eagles looked to create a shot for leading scorer Jerome Robinson, who finished the game with a season-high 29 points. Yet, a lob pass from Jordan Chatman looped over Robinson’s head, spelling the end of BC’s upset hopes.
However, all was not lost. A clock malfunction on the inbounds granted the Eagles one last chance, much to the dismay of the John Paul Jones Arena faithful. This time Robinson was set up to inbounds the ball himself.
Head coach Jim Christian was clearly looking to place the ball in the hands of his veteran guard on a handoff play from Nik Popovic, but the ball never made it to Robinson. The sophomore big man faked the handoff and looked to go one-on-one with Virginia’s 6’10” center Jack Salt along the baseline, but a push-off gave Popovic his second offensive foul of the game and ultimately, gave the Eagles their fourth loss of the season.
BC is now even in conference play at 1-1 and drops to 10-4 on the season, while No. 9 Virginia improves to 12-1 overall.
A strong shooting performance was imperative for the Eagles if they hoped to knock off the top defensive team in the NCAA. Under head coach Tony Bennett’s “pack line defense,” the Cavaliers lead the nation in opponent points per game at a meager 52.3.
The hole in Bennett’s unique defense is the perimeter, where the Eagles’ three-headed monster of Robinson, Bowman, and Chatman looked to thrive. By the time the final whistle blew, BC’s 31.8% shooting from beyond the arc simply was not enough.
Despite Jerome Robinson’s 29 points, it was a different Jerome—Ty Jerome—who was the breakout star of the game. Virginia’s sophomore guard came hot out the gate and never cooled down, ending with a career-high 31 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Together with backcourt partner Kyle Guy, the pair scored 42 of the Cavaliers’ 59 points.
Just seconds into the game, Guy found nylon on his first three point attempt, and the lethal duo kept stride from there, finding voids in the Eagles' 1-3-1 zone defense. By the end of the first half, the Cavaliers lead the Eagles 28-21 on 7 BC turnovers. Robinson, Chatman, and Popovic combined for all 21 of BC’s points.
The Eagles hung tight with the Cavaliers in the second half, ending a few Virginia scoring runs with big shots from the likes of Robinson and Chatman. BC’s poise in a loud John Paul Jones Arena showed the growth this young team has experienced so far this season.
Following the stunning upset of then-first ranked Duke at home, the Eagles seemed ready to dethrone another top ACC foe, especially when a clutch three from Robinson tied the game at 51 with five minutes to play.
Trading threes back and forth, BC was eventually given one last chance off a missed one-and-one by Virginia’s Devon Hall. Nevertheless, the ball never touched the rim for the Eagles in the last 10 seconds, and Jim Christian’s team was handed a gut-wrenching yet encouraging loss.
BC will look to rebound in Conte Forum on January 3 when they take on Clemson at 7 p.m. The Tigers currently sit at 11-1 after a strong start in non-conference play.
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