Boston College men's basketball suffered an overtime loss at home on Tuesday night against rival Providence College 100-95. This was BC’s first home loss against the Friars since 2004, when Providence defeated a BC team led by Jared Dudley and Craig Smith 61-52. Fans on both sides of the ball left Conte Forum questioning the competence of the officiating crew, who called a total of 56 fouls that resulted in 79 free throws.
At the start of the game, Athletic Director Martin Jarmond’s BC Barstool-inspired promo, giving the first 500 students free Ky Bowman posters and “Beat Providence” t-shirts, proved to be a huge success. The student section was overflowing, and there was an electric buzz in the air unseen so far this season.
From the tip-off, both teams looked hot. Jordan Chatman marched right down the court and drained a three on the first possession of the game, but Providence came right back with a layup from David Duke. The game went back and forth like this throughout, forcing the Eagles to play at a significantly faster tempo than they have been accustomed.
As the half progressed, Providence seemed to realize that they could capitalize on BC’s lack of a true big man—BC’s starting center Nik Popovic was out with a concussion.
“I thought we had an advantage with our length and our size,” said Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley after the game. “I think the injury hurt them, with their size, [Popovic], because he was a big, big part of our scouting report. He’s, you know, 6’11”, 250, he’s long, he can score, he can pass it, he’s a junior, he’s been in a lot of games.”
With two players nearly 30 pounds heavier than anyone who played for BC in the game, the Friars were able to dominate the paint. Although the stat sheet says that BC outrebounded Providence, this doesn’t really tell the story of the game. Providence seemed to be able to get into the paint whenever they wanted, outscoring BC 44-30.
This physical dominance propelled Providence to a 33-22 lead, best embodied by a monster dunk by freshman Jimmy Nichols Jr., who came flying in from the sideline to flush down a missed three-pointer with authority, forcing BC to call a timeout to regroup.
Shortly after, BC went on a run of their own, led by freshman Chris Herren Jr. Herren drained three shots from behind the arc, along with a steal and an assist on the three minute, 16 second, 15-0 scoring rampage that gave the Eagles a four-point lead–their first lead in over 10 minutes.
BC only lead 43-39 going into halftime, but momentum led many in the student section to believe the result of the game was sealed, causing them to leave during the break. Their absence was not negligible, as the Providence fans were significantly more vocal for the remainder of the game. Audio clips from inside Conte would likely lead one to believe that it was a PC home game, with chants of “Let’s go Friars,” echoing through the arena, drowning out any noise from the BC student section.
“I think people are missing out on a hell of a product,” noted Coach Cooley. “Those young kids are terrific. Bowman—I’d pay to watch that kid play. He’s a really good player.”
Jordan Chatman came out of the gate hot, going on to score 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. Yet, Providence College still managed to rally behind the crowd energy, led by Roxbury, MA native A.J. Reeves. Reeves, who would go on to put up a team-high 24 points, had the hot-hand, sinking three 3-pointers in the second half.
Towards the end of regulation, the foul calls became increasingly questionable, starting with a foul call on Nate Watson resulting in two free throw attempts for Steffon Mitchell. Shortly thereafter, Jairus Hamilton fouled out–the first of three to foul out by the end of the game. The Eagles seemed to have the game in hand after Chatman drained another two free throws to give BC an 87-84 lead with only 11 seconds left. Providence hustled down the court to try to get off a shot, but BC played tenacious defense.
Just when it seemed as if the Eagles had David Duke pinned into a corner to clinch the win, he managed to dish it out to Reeves, who sunk the clutch, game-tying three with only 2.6 seconds remaining on the clock to send it to overtime.
Providence dominated the five-minute overtime period, during which the officiating began to get even more questionable. Most notably, Ky Bowman was called for a foul in which there was no physical contact with AJ Reeves, who was then granted three free throws. Shortly after, Luka Kraljevic was inexplicably called for a foul after Isaiah Jackson tripped over his own feet and granted two free throws to give Providence a three-point lead with only 33 seconds to play. Ky Bowman and AJ Reeves both went 1-2 from the line on the following two possessions to keep the gap at three before Bowman drove to the hole and missed a layup, effectively clinching the game for the Friars.
The Eagles will now travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday at 6 p.m., looking to improve to 7-2 and retain their spot in the “receiving votes” category of the AP polls.