After battling back from a 16-point deficit, Boston College came within two of tying Clemson with 5:49 left in the game. BC kept it close towards the end, but the Tigers pulled away to win by eight, ending the Eagles’ run in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Following their upset over NC State on Wednesday, the No. 12 seed Boston College Eagles lost to the No. 4 seed Clemson Tigers 90-82 on Thursday afternoon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, ending their ACC Tournament journey at the quarterfinal round.
“It’s tough playing three games in three days,” said guard Jerome Robinson. “It’s what you want to do. It’s what we wanted and I think we did well today… We got to cut it down, but we ended up coming up short.”
BC captured the lead early, leading by nine at one point. They maintained this lead for about eight minutes until the Tigers came clawing back, taking the lead midway through the first and keeping it until the final buzzer.
The Eagles worked to keep up with Clemson, but the Tigers knew the Eagles, especially Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson, were tired and used that to their advantage. Clemson's Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell noted that they focused on going after Bowman and Robinson, wearing them down and forcing them to make tough plays.
And wear them down they did. Although they led the team in scoring in the first half of Wednesday’s game against NC State, Clemson held Bowman and Robinson to one and six points, respectively, in the first half of Thursday’s game. Jordan Chatman stepped up to make up the lost ground, going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and scoring 13 points in the first half.
“Jordan Chatman had some looks,” Head Coach Jim Christian said. “You know, the first game we played them, Chatty didn’t score… the other guys had to make some plays for us.”
BC struggled defensively in the first half. Clemson's offense ran around in an effort to exhaust the Eagles, leaving the corners open for 3s. The Tigers took advantage of this, shooting 53% from 3-point range in the first half.
The second half, however, showed a revival of the Eagles. Bowman exploded to score 22 points – a definite improvement over his first half shooting performance. Robinson also came alive in the second half, scoring 14 points. As a team, BC scored 46 points in the second half, giving the Tigers a bit of a scare.
Steffon Mitchell dominated on defense again, grabbing nine boards and notching a block and a steal. Bowman followed with eight rebounds, Nik Popovic and Jordan Chatman each tallied four.
“We scored 82 points on an unbelievably good defensive team,” said Christian. “They give up about 70 points a game, so we got our moments… you’re not shooting 58% every night. It was tough, but we still made some shots.”
After not making it to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament since 2013, the Eagles were proud of their performance. Christian noted that the hard work and dedication of this team allowed them to be in the postseason, attributing their increased intensity to a team culture change in the last few weeks.
“In the last two weeks, and we’ve lost some of those games, the culture completely changed,” explained Christian. “The mentality completely changed. The attitude with which we played completely changed and it was really fun to be around…I thought they brought a lot of pride having played here and having played all year to Boston College.”
Robinson strongly agreed, saying it felt good to be playing in March and that if you have the chance to play postseason ball, “you don’t wanna be on spring break.”
The Eagles await the future of their postseason until March 11 when they will find out if they will compete in the National Invitation Tournament.
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