On a night when Ky Bowman shot just 3-13 from the field, the Boston College men’s basketball team was able to step up and take down Minnesota as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Eagles came away with a 68-56 victory at home on Monday night.
Freshman Wynston Tabbs was able to kickstart the Eagles’ offense in the first half. Tabbs finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting from the field. He also added three steals, which came at key points in the game and helped to build momentum for BC.
The Eagles showed off increased depth in their roster. The additions of freshmen Tabbs, Jairus Hamilton, and Chris Herren Jr. has expanded BC’s core rotation. Last year, the Eagles played with a much thinner lineup, which put a lot of additional pressure on their main scorers. With a deeper cohort of players, the Eagles were able to coast to a decisive victory, even as their star player struggled to find his shot throughout the contest.
BC held the advantage in bench points in the matchup, outscoring Minnesota 22-9 in that category.
Big man Nik Popovic came off the bench to lead all scorers with 18 points, all of which came in the second half.
Although Johncarlos Reyes got the start, Popovic ended up playing more minutes for BC. He provided a spark which helped the Eagles grab the necessary momentum to go on a run and take control of the game.
Perhaps the biggest story of the night was BC’s strong defense — and Minnesota’s lack of scoring. After finishing the first half trailing by only a point, the Golden Gophers shot just 8-34 from the floor (and a dismal 2-16 from three-point range) in the second period. BC forced Minnesota into taking low-percentage shots and limited second-chance opportunities by winning the rebound battle.
“We’re hanging our hat on our defense right now,” BC Head Coach Jim Christian said following the game.
Although the Eagles’ best shooters have not yet found their rhythm this year — Jordan Chatman shot 1-8 from beyond the arc on Monday night — they find themselves at 5-1 behind strong defensive play.
Another big moment in the game came when Minnesota star Jordan Murphy fouled out with 5:33 to go in the game. He had to spend much of the second half on the bench because of foul trouble.
“It hurts you, him being in foul trouble,” said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino. “He’s the best player.”
Despite playing limited minutes, Murphy still led Minnesota with 16 points. He kept the game close in the first half with strong play in the paint and tenacious rebounding. The Golden Gophers missed his presence on the court in the second half.
Despite his down night, Ky Bowman was still able to come up with some highlight plays for the Eagles. With 14:33 to go in the first half, he came around a screen and accelerated into the lane. Seeing an opening, he threw down a ferocious dunk over a Minnesota player, drawing a foul in the process. Bowman went on to convert the and-one at the free throw line.
The star BC guard finished with a double-double in points and rebounds.
It was Minnesota’s first loss of the season, as they move to 5-1 on the year.
With the win, the Eagles notch their first victory in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge since beating Penn State in 2012. BC moves to 5-1 on the year as well.
The Eagles will now look forward to another home game for their next matchup. They play Sacred Heart on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Conte Forum.
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