BC – Clemson Recap
By Ben Neuwirth
Boston College (10-5, 1-2) lost a close game to the Clemson Tigers (13-1, 2-0) in Conte Forum, 74-70. BC has now lost two straight conference games while Clemson remains perfect in the ACC.
Clemson started off the game stronger than the Eagles, especially pivot man Elijah Johnson who dominated all night long, bodying Johncarlos Reyes and Luca Kraljevic with ease and using his length and quickness to fool Nik Popovic into 3 first half fouls. Donte Grantham also had a strong opening period for the Tigers, scoring 11 points and getting to the line at will.
Combined with a listless Eagles’ offense, this led the road squad to a 33-14 lead as the first half drew to a close. They had 10 turnovers and attempted just 7 shots for long range, resorting to strange play calls such as JC Reyes post ups and neglecting to move the ball. Star Guard Ky Bowman was able to will himself to some points and combined with a miraculous scoop lay-up by Jerome Robinson along with a no-look pass by the Junior Magician, BC cut the Clemson lead to just 15 as the buzzer sounded to end the opening period.
Coming out in the 2nd the BC needed to come out strong and were carried by a man who had carried them countless times before, Jerome Robinson. ‘Rome went nuclear, draining 5 three-pointers and 19 points total in the first 10 minutes of the half. He was having his way with defenders, lulling them to sleep with his crossover and then pulling up from any distance.
BC played most of the later period in a soft press 1-3-1 zone with Steffon Mitchell at the top, that worked reasonably well to stymie the Tigers, though did yield several open looks from 3, where Clemson was 8-23 on the day. Mitchell was once again beyond tenacious, in today’s memorable sequence he found himself on the wrong end of a 2-1 fastbreak but somehow managed to guard both guys and force a jump ball. He is a savant on the defensive end.
Luca Kraljevic had perhaps the best game of his career, though he only finished with 4 points he was effective stopping shots at the rim, his J looked smooth and he generally seemed to know what he was doing out there. This could be a massive development for the Eagles as they desperately need another option off the bench and while he isn’t completely there physically, his Basketball IQ is growing and growing. Coach Jim Christian praised the frosh, “Luca played great, he kept balls alive, great defense. The thing I love about Luca is he plays confident. He’s not scared at all out there.”
Grantham and Johnson remained strong in the 2nd half and always seemed to have an answer for every big shot the Maroon-and-Gold made. Sharpshooter Marcquise Reed had several timely 3’s, finishing with 17 points on the day. On the back of Robinson, 28 points, and Bowman, 19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, BC brought the Tiger lead down to just 2 with a minute remaining and with possession of the ball.
Ky Bowman drew the foul and sunk the subsequent 2 free throws to bring BC to 68 even. A questionable foul on the other end had the Tiger lead go back up to 2. He was red-hot all night long but unfortunately for the Eagles Jerome’s late 3 rimmed in-and-out. BC was forced to play the foul game the rest of the way and Clemson was perfect from the line, not giving the Eagles an opening.
The final score was 74-70, a disappointing result as the heartbreak Eagles once again came up short. But you have to remember the context. BC has played 2 ranked teams toe-to-toe to start the year and beat #1. This is a really good start and as Coach Christian says the team needs to avoid 4 minute lulls in play and make every possession matter if they are going to beat the elite ACC teams. They clearly have the talent and coaching to hang with anyone, now it’s all about consistency.
Also Jerome Robinson is averaging 28.5 PPG in 2018, so yeah, keep that up ‘Rome.