CHESTNUT HILL - Food poisoning struck the Boston College (3-5) locker room hours before their 68-66 loss to UMass Lowell (4-4) Sunday. Freshmen guard Jerome Robinson and senior center Dennis Clifford were reportedly throwing up all day. Clifford did not play.
Despite the sickness, Jerome Robinson played 34 minutes and led the Eagles in scoring with 16 points, however it wasn't good enough to oust the River Hawks, who won their first game against an ACC opponent in their program's history.
UMass played from behind most of the game until junior guard Tyler Livingston hit a go-ahead jumper to take the lead late in the second half. Boston College brought the game within one twice in the 20 seconds but couldn't even the score.
River Hawks head coach Pat Duquette was jubilant following the win. "What a signature win for us to beat a school like Boston College out of the ACC in such a close game down the stretch. It happened kind of quick, they were ahead most of the game and we were just hanging around. We scored at the right time to get the lead. We made some big free throws, executed our out-of-bounds play really well and Isaac White hit some key shots for us."
White, a freshman guard out of Ashland, Ohio, dropped a game-high 20 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute to put UMass up by four. The River Hawks led for less than five minutes the whole game and shot just 42% from the field, but with seven minutes to go in the game and BC up 10 UMass went on an 11-0 run to take the lead.
Without their two best players in Clifford and Eli Carter, who was sidelined with a left ankle sprain, the young Eagles squad couldn't beat an undersized River Hawks team. The Eagles have 10 freshmen on the roster and missing their 7-foot big man in Clifford and leading scorer in Carter hurt the team as BC played one of their worst games all season. In his postgame press conference, second-year head coach Jim Christian said, “There's no bright side to this game.” The Eagles turned the ball over 17 times and shot 52% (12-23) from the free throw line.
This loss brings the Eagles to 3-5 on the season. Boston College has a short turn around before they play Providence on Wednesday. The Eagles need Clifford and Carter to return quickly before this season gets aways from them as the Friars are currently 8-1 and playing very good basketball. UMass will travel back into Boston Thursday night when they tip-off against Boston University (3-4) at the Tsongas Arena.