The Boston College Eagles (7-17) now drop to 0-11 in ACC play as they lose a nail-biter to NCAA tournament top-dogs, North Carolina 20-4) by a score of 68-65.
The Eagles came out of the gates with more intensity than they had played with throughout the entire season. Behind Senior captains Eli Carter and Dennis Clifford, Boston College jumped out to a 13-4 run to start the game. Head Coach Jim Christian made sure his team pushed the tiempo early, and thats exactly what they did.
Carter, who has established himself as the teams leading point scorer, put up 17 first half points. The graduate student, who is averaging 16.5 points per game, finished the night with 26 points. Assistant Coach Steve Robinson of North Carolina spoke on behalf of Roy Williams after the game.
"He's a scorer, an explosive scorer" said Robinson "If he gets going and starts making one shot, two shots then that basket really starts to look big and thats the way he played all game."
There was no answer for Carter tonight, but his game high 26 points was not enough to finish off the 20.5 point favorites.
North Carolina hung with the Eagles all game, but never really took over. The Tar Heels looked deflated. It was not a Roy Williams team we were used to seeing, but like every great team, they found a way to get the job done.
Justin Jackson, a Sophomore forward, was the story of the night.
The Sophomore did not start the night despite starting a majority of games for the tar heels this season. Jackson took the game upon himself in the second half and decided he was not going to let his team lose. Clutch shot after clutch shot, Jackson finished the game off with 20 points. The six-foot-eight forward hit the go ahead jumper for the Heels with 3:18 left to play. The agressiveness from the young forward awoke Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, the two senior leaders of this experienced North Carolina team.
Paige and Johnson were kept quiet by the tenacious Boston College defense all night. Johnson, who did not start the game, finished the night with just nine points. In the last few minutes of the game, Johnson refused to allow Boston College any good looks in the paint. The "other" senior, Paige, was held to just 12 points, but six of his points came in just the last two minutes of the game. Despite the lack-luster performance from the two seniors, they showed up when their team needed them.
The Eagles were dealt a second big loss tonight when Freshmen A.J. Turner went down in the second half of play. The Freshmen came out of the game and did not continue with what appeared to be an ankle injury. The trainers immediately wrapped his ankle and gave him crutches as he was not allowed to play the remainder of the game. The extent of the injury is still unknown.
Despite another ACC loss, the Eagles played well tonight.
"If you hold North Carolina to 31 points at halftime, you're playing hard." Said Christian, but the same re-occuring theme for the Eagles haunted them again tonight.
Outside of Eli Carter, the Eagles do not have many scoring options. Freshmen Jerome Robinson, who was the only other player for the Eagles averaging over ten points per game, went down with a fractured wrist against Florida State a few weeks back. The Eagles have tried looking to others such as Dennis Clifford and Turner (now hurt) for scoring, but it is far from consistent.
"We have trouble scoring sometimes, and I think for a big stretch of the second half we just couldnt make that one big play." said Christian after the game.
The Eagles will look to snap their 11 game losing streak as they take on Syracuse (16-8) on Sunday at 1pm at the Conte Forum.
North Carolina will host Pittsburgh (17-6) on Sunday as well.