It has felt as if the Eagles were making up for lost ground over these past few weeks with wins against Pittsburgh and University of Miami. Granted, both teams rank near the bottom of the ACC, but, in each game, the Eagles looked dominant.
On Wednesday night, those same Eagles came to play but failed to get the same result. Using a 16-0 comeback late in the second half, the BC men’s basketball team (13-12, 4-9 ACC) was able to come back after being down 14 and force the game into overtime, where the NC State Wolfpack (19-8, 7-7 ACC) ultimately pulled ahead and capped off the 89-80 victory.
The game got off to an unusual start, with Jordan Chatman recording the first 12 points for the Eagles, all on three-point attempts. Jairus Hamilton hit another three, meaning that BC’s first five field goal makes all came from three-point range. NC State countered with their own perimeter attack, using Braxton Beverly in a Chatman-esque capacity. He recorded 9 of the first 12 points for the Wolfpack with three-pointers.
Bowman was surprisingly held scoreless for much of the first half, with his first points coming with less than seven minutes to go. He finished with a respectable 16 points with four rebounds and five assists after going 3-8 with seven points in the first half. Jared Hamilton had a very solid first half, pulling down four offensive rebounds and tallying nine points. He also held his own defensively, putting the clamps on the NC State shooters for much of the half.
The biggest downfall for the Eagles in the first half was a lack of ball security. The NC State full-court and half-court defense managed to record 11 turnovers in the opening frame. Yet, most of these turnovers came off of unforced mistakes from the Eagles that cost them opportunities to close the deficit. The Wolfpack finished with 18 forced turnovers on the night.
Chatman eventually headed to the locker room after reaggravating his finger, an injury that occurred during the Miami game on Sunday. He did not return for the rest of the contest, giving the Eagles one less shooter to use against the swarming Wolfpack defense.
Bowman ended the half with another circus shot, this time getting a friendly bounce from the rim. Bowman’s season has been filled with incredible plays like these, a major reason why he appears to have a bright NBA future.
The Eagles headed to the locker room down 46-37, looking desperately for ways to cut down on self-inflicted errors and focus on capitalizing on the opportunities given to them. In the second half, the Wolfpack jumped out to their largest lead of the game (14 points) with just ten minutes to go. It appeared all hope was lost for the Eagles, with time winding down.
However, Nik Popovic’s stellar play in the post and Jared Hamilton’s presence on the wing, coupled with tantalizing defense from Steffon Mitchell, was a sight to see. The Eagles used the play from these key players to spark a 16-0 run and take their first lead of the game. The fact that the Eagles did this without Jordan Chatman speaks volumes about the team’s resilient nature.
Steffon Mitchell recorded 13 rebounds in the game, marking his sixth game of the season with double-digit rebounds. His work on the glass was absolutely crucial during this run. Popovic used his body as well as his deft touch around the rim to give BC a much-needed post presence, recording a team-high 18 points with four rebounds and three assists. All of those points came during the second half. Beverly went scoreless in the second half, thanks to the much-improved second half defense from the Eagles.
The game got extremely close heading into the final minutes of the half. Clutch free throws from Mitchell and a jumper from Jairus Hamilton kept the Eagles in the lead after NC State started to come back to their old selves.
The Wolfpack tied the game after Torin Dorn went 1-2 from the line and suddenly, the Eagles had the ball with under 30 seconds left. However, poor clock management from Head Coach Jim Christian really showed.
Bowman ran the clock out, standing at the top of the key for at least 25 seconds. With less than five seconds to go, Popovic came up to set a screen, but the Wolfpack defender easily went over it, forcing Bowman to chuck up a hail mary of a shot. Unfortunately, Bowman couldn’t pull off the heroics once again, sending this game into overtime.
It only got worse for the Eagles. The NC State defense improved their play against Bowman during OT, and Mitchell once again had difficulty converting at the stripe. The Wolfpack went on a 7-0 run to open the extra period, which they used to build momentum and fend off the Eagles for the rest of the contest.
The game ended with a final score of 89-80 in favor of NC State. It was a disappointing night for the Eagles, to say the least. BC once again had a phenomenal chance to win, but couldn’t close it. Needless to say, the Eagles are missing that “closer” mentality from Wynston Tabbs, who complimented Bowman well earlier in the season.
Yet, the Eagles put up a resounding fight against an NCAA-Tournament-hopeful team. Despite having a depleted rotation, there were fantastic individual efforts by BC players. Unfortunately, those efforts weren’t enough to overcome the NC State offensive and defensive threat that overtook the Eagles late in the game.
NC State has always proved to be a tough, but reasonable test for the Eagles late in the season for the past few years. The last meeting between the two programs came in the 2018 ACC Tournament where the Eagles upset the Wolfpack in the second round of the tournament, 91-87. BC now shifts its focus to the Clemson Tigers (15-11, 5-8 ACC) who will host the visiting Eagles on Saturday for a noon tip-off.