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Bowman's Brilliance Not Enough as the Eagles Fall to Syracuse

It became painfully clear from the start of Boston College’s basketball game against Syracuse that the Eagles would be in for a long afternoon. Star point guard Ky Bowman did not start the game for undisclosed reasons, and his presence was sorely missed in the opening minutes. In fact, the Eagles’ first field goal did not come until six and a half minutes into the opening frame, when Bowman hit a jumper.

Bowman made his presence known immediately, scoring five consecutive points for the Eagles after he entered the game. This would be a sign of things to come for BC, as Bowman was the only consistent contributor for the offense throughout the entirety of the game. No other Eagle had more than three field goals. Bowman shot 7-12 from the field and 5-8 from three-point range.

Scoring was hard to come by for BC in the first half, but the defense played just well enough to keep the margin close. The Eagles trailed 31-24 at the halftime break following a spectacular and-one conversion by Jordan Chatman to halt a scoring run by Syracuse and steal some momentum back entering the break. Boston College had plenty of trouble with Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim, who scored 11 points in the first half thanks to some hot shooting from long range.

Syracuse largely dominated the second half. Guard Tyus Battle caught fire and propelled the Orange to a 60-40 lead with just eight minutes remaining, forcing Boston College head coach Jim Christian to use his fourth and final timeout.

It was clear that the Eagles needed a spark, and hopes of a BC comeback rested squarely on Bowman’s shoulders. Bowman delivered, just as he has done all season long for the Eagles, leading the way on a quick 14-0 run that cut the deficit to 60-54 with four minutes remaining. It seemed as if Boston College would be able to come back and tie the game, but the Eagles went cold again from the field, and Syracuse was able to put the game on ice with seven free throws once the Eagles had to start fouling.

Ky Bowman and Tyus Battle each finished with a game-high 21 points, shouldering much of the scoring burden for their respective teams. Of Boston College’s 18 made shots, Bowman made 7, while Battle made 8 of Syracuse’s 22 field goals. Any significant performance of the Eagles’ supporting cast was largely missing throughout the contest, as no Boston College player besides Bowman shot higher than 30% from the field. This made the offense predictable for Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 defense, and Bowman was forced to make difficult shots to keep the Eagles in the game.

The Eagles suffered two injuries in the second half that will be worth monitoring, with starting center Nik Popovic going down with what appeared to be an eye injury early in the second half. Just two minutes later, starting forward Steffon Mitchell was fouled hard in the air on his way to the basket, landing awkwardly on his heavily-wrapped left knee.

Both players would head to the locker room, but Mitchell would return to the game just minutes later. Popovic’s status remains unknown.

The Eagles leave Syracuse with more questions than answers, as their ACC hopes seem to be just about dead. Any hope of an NCAA tournament appearance would likely require that the Eagles win the ACC tournament, which seems unlikely with teams like Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, and Virginia Tech in the way. Freshman guard Wynston Tabbs has been sorely missed, and the Eagles have struggled to generate consistent offense in his absence.

In all likelihood, this will simply be another lost season, and the Eagles could very well lose their entire starting backcourt of Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman after this season. Head coach Jim Christian will need to make a remarkable run in the ACC tournament to instill hope in this fanbase. The Eagles simply seem lost without Bowman on the floor, a sign that dark days could be on the horizon for this program.

Boston College dropped to 11-11 on the season with the loss and 2-8 in the ACC, while Syracuse improved to 17-7 (8-3 in ACC play). The Eagles face off with 12-12 Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at Conte Forum, hoping to pick up a much-needed ACC win and stay above .500 for the season.

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