“In this league, you need to be emotionally focused for forty minutes. We weren’t today.”
Boston College Head Coach Jim Christian was visibly frustrated in his post-game press conference following a 79-73 loss to ACC rival Notre Dame. The Eagles turned in one of their most balanced scoring performances of the season, with four starters scoring in double figures.
The Fighting Irish opened the game with efficient and emphatic offense, with forward Nikola Djogo scoring Notre Dame’s first eight points to give the Irish an early lead. The Eagles battled back, however, and the game was hotly contested down to the final whistle. Neither team held a lead larger than 10 points in a game featuring six lead changes and seven ties.
The Eagles were able to get a fantastic scoring performance out of guard Jared Hamilton, who shot 8-10 from the floor to the tune of 17 points. Hamilton turned in his best scoring performance of the season as he hit some crucial shots for Boston College in the second half. Every time Notre Dame gained a slim lead, Hamilton seemed to respond to keep the Eagles within striking distance.
Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman both played a full forty minutes, combining for 39 of BC’s 73 points. Both guards were somewhat effective from long range, but continuously made the Irish pay on mid-range jumpers from the elbows. The Eagles were extremely fluid on offense throughout the contest; their constant motion gave Notre Dame fits on defense.
The Eagles continuously exploited the soft spots in the Notre Dame zone, opening up opportunities for not only Bowman, Hamilton, and Chatman, but Nik Popovic as well. Popovic kept the Irish honest in the paint, pitching in 14 points on 6-10 shooting.
The Eagles also dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Irish 35-28 and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds compared to Notre Dame’s five. However, while the Eagles dominated the glass and turned in a great offensive performance, the Irish exploited some weak spots on the way to a slim victory. The Irish shot 10-20 from three-point range and 15-18 from the line, while the Eagles struggled in both areas. Irish guard Nikola Djogo was particularly deadly, scoring a team-high 21 points on 7-10 shooting (4-6 from three-point range).
While Boston College had a multitude of opportunities to run away with the game in the second half, the Eagles squandered all of their chances to gain a lead larger than two points, allowing the Irish to respond and eventually take a lead that it would not relinquish.
With the Eagles trailing 69-68 following a timely three-pointer from Jared Hamilton, the defense collapsed and allowed the Irish to go on an 8-0 run to take a nine-point lead with just 30 seconds remaining. While Ky Bowman and Nik Popovic combined for a five-point possession at the other end, the Eagles were unable to mount a comeback.
The loss dropped Boston College to 11-9 on the season and 2-6 in ACC play, while Notre Dame improved to 12-10 and 2-7 in ACC play, with both victories coming against the Eagles. The road ahead does not get any easier for Boston College, with a Tuesday night road game against second-ranked Duke looming. The Eagles now have a thin margin for error for the remainder of the season, as any missteps could effectively eliminate Boston College from the postseason picture.
BC will return to Conte Forum for a game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Feb. 12.