To say Boston College desparately needed a win coming into their ACC Tournament matchup against Pittsburgh would be an understatement.
The Eagles had lost each of their previous three games in ugly fashion, and a loss to Pittsburgh would seem to damage head coach Jim Christian’s chances of returning for another season. Not to mention that the Eagles would be knocked out of the ACC Tournament, effectively ending their 2018-19 season.
Not only did BC lose — they were completely blown out by the Panthers. While the final score was a seemingly respectable 80-70, the game was never even close.
The Eagles came out hot, taking an early 7-0 lead behind the play of Jordan Chatman and Nik Popovic on the offensive end. Their play on the other side of the floor was equally impressive, allowing no points for the first four minutes of play.
The flood gates opened after Pitt’s Xavier Johnson scored his first points of the game on a heavily contested layup. From there, Pittsburgh would go on to dominate both sides of the ball. In only four minutes, Pittsburgh went from trailing by seven to leading by a point before their offense even really started heating up.
Johnson was absolutely unstoppable, scoring 14 points on 63% shooting in the first half. In contrast, BC’s two leading scorers at the half combined for just 13 points. The Eagles could not seem to buy a basket, shooting a putrid 25% from the field. Even their All-ACC guard Ky Bowman was cold, only converting on one of his five shots in the half.
BC simply seemed tired, taking poor shots and showing a general unwillingness to hustle on defense. The disparity in energy between the two teams became increasingly apparent as the half progressed, with the Panthers closing on a 23-5 run. The Eagles, on the other hand, were unable to sink a single basket in the final 9:19 of the first half.
Coming into the second trailing 36-21, BC struck first with an early layup before returning to more of the same, allowing Pittsburgh to go on a 15-3 scoring rampage. By the end of the game, Pittsburgh had a pair of freshmen over 20 points, with Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens scoring an efficient 23 and 26, respectively.
Popovic was able to provide a somewhat of a spark for the Eagles, scoring 15 points on 6-8 shooting in the second half, bringing him to a team-high 21 points. But that was not nearly enough to save the Eagles. Chatman was able to tally 16 points in the game, but was extremely inefficient, shooting 2-10 on mostly poorly-selected shots.
While the deficit was significantly narrowed, the momentum change was primarily a result of Pittsburgh taking their foot off the gas in preparation for the second round.
The Eagles finish their season on a four-game skid, ending with a 14-17 record (5-13 in conference play). Considering that they are likely losing their best player in Ky Bowman to the NBA and one of their best offensive weapons in Jordan Chatman to graduation, BC seems to be at risk of taking another step back next season — one that head coach Jim Christian cannot afford.
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