On Wednesday night, the No. 1 team in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 4 team in the AP poll showcased their defensive dominance en route to an 83-56 victory in Chestnut Hill. While the Eagles stayed within striking distance for a majority of the first half, the Cavaliers held BC to just 32% shooting from the floor after the break.
BC initially appeared primed to take Virginia down to the wire once again. Looking to mirror last year’s performance when Jerome Robinson and company traveled to Charlottesville and fell 59-58, Bowman came out of the gate hot. Connecting on his first two three-point attempts of the night, the dynamic guard gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope from the outset.
Coupled with a Jordan Chatman 3-pointer one possession later, the Eagles looked to attack Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense from the beyond the arc. Nevertheless, the Eagles’ shooting would not continue down the stretch, as BC would go just 4-21 from three-point land the rest of the game.
Central to the team’s shooting troubles was veteran Jordan Chatman, who has struggled mightily to find his stroke this season. Chatman finished the night with only seven points on 3-12 shooting from the field and 1-6 shooting from three. As the Eagles enter the gauntlet of ACC play, Chatman will be pressed to fill that second scoring option behind Bowman.
Bowman ended the game with 15 points on 5-12 shooting. After the quick start, Bennett and the Cavaliers did a good job of limiting his quality looks for the remainder of the game.
BC’s defense was the polar opposite. While Virginia seamlessly switched within their man-to-man defense, the Eagles continually struggled to guard the perimeter and yielded open shots to Virginia’s methodical half-court offense. Sharpshooters Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome recorded 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Yet, the most pressing issue for BC all game long was defending the paint. Big man Mamadi Diakite poured in 18 points on an efficient 9-12 shooting, and Nik Popovic simply had no answer for the 6’9” forward around the basket. While Popovic did record a team-high 16 points, his offensive production was accompanied by a lackluster defensive showing.
At the half, Virginia led BC 43-31.
After the break, Coach Christian looked to limit both Virginia’s ability to set and their offense through a soft press and zone defense. This gave BC some temporary hope at both ends, as a Popovic three-pointer from the top of the key put the Eagles within six points at the 16:34 mark in the second.
However, time and again Virginia had an answer for every Eagles' scoring run. De’Andre Hunter began to catch fire for the Cavaliers in the second half, scoring 13 of his 18 total points, and Virginia appeared to simply wear down BC on both ends of the floor.
In the second half, the absence of Steffon Mitchell and his defensive energy became apparent. The Cavaliers out-rebounded the Eagles 19-6. While Wynston Tabbs returned to the lineup from injury, the freshman had a difficult time finding his offensive rhythm, tossing up a couple deep threes. Tabbs ended the night with nine points.
Virginia slammed the door shut with a 16-0 scoring run in the latter portions of the second half. Together with a more than six-minute scoring drought for the Eagles, the game was out of reach for good. By the final whistle, Virginia held a 27-point advantage and left with a decisive 83-56 victory.
The Eagles will look to get back on track this weekend in South Bend against Notre Dame. After starting conference play 0-2, Jim Christian’s squad will take on the first non-ranked team in the ACC portion of the schedule.
BC (9-5) will take on Notre Dame (10-5) this Saturday at 12 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.