Eagles Celebrate 1984 Elite Eight Team with ACC Win Over Miami
By Joseph Mahoney
On Sunday evening, the Boston College 1984 Elite Eight run was honored at Conte Forum as the Miami Hurricanes (11-14, 3-10 ACC) traveled up to Chestnut Hill to take on the Eagles (13-11, 4-8 ACC) in their first and only matchup of the season. While both teams came into the game near the bottom of the ACC rankings, each was coming off a quality ACC win which told us we were in store for a great matchup.
Entering the game, the storyline was dominated by the battle of the point guards. Ky Bowman (20 PPG) and Chris Lykes (17.1 PPG) entered the game leading their teams in scoring and near the top of the scoring ranks in the ACC, 3rdand 7threspectively.
Lykes got the scoring going for Miami at the 16:30 mark in the 1stas he scooped it off the glass with his left hand. However, this was about all we heard from Lykes in the opening half, as Jim Christian’s game plan to throw a variety of defenders at Lykes seemed to keep him out of rhythm. With Jared Hamilton, Bowman, and Jordan Chatman all taking their turns at Lykes, they were able to hold him to a humbling 4 points on 2/9 shooting at halftime.
The game got off to a very sloppy start with the teams shooting a combined 35% from the field along with 8 turnovers in the first six minutes. Afterwards, the pace began to pick up, as they started to trade buckets. Miami eventually took the lead, 16-14, on a three pointer by Sam Waardenburg, an unlikely hero for the Canes who paced them in the first half with 8 points.
However, this was the last time that Miami would see themselves ahead in this contest, as the Eagles responded with a 7-0 run. In this spurt, BC relied heavily on their defense, forcing Miami into bad shot selections, each as the 30-second shot clock trickled close to zero.
Scoring-wise, in the first half the Eagles were led by Chatman who had 9 points on 4/5 shooting and Jarius Hamilton with 5 points. Ky Bowman, who Christian revealed after the game was playing under the weather, was held to just 3 points in the first but still managed to stuff the stat sheet with 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and a block. Perhaps most importantly, BC controlled the rebounding battle, led by Nik Popovic with 8 first half boards. All of this contributed to the Eagles taking a 25-21 into the break.
Coming out of halftime, Lykes seemed determined to assert himself, taking but missing two threes on back-to-back Miami possessions. This proved to be a theme for the Canes tonight as they finished the game 4/26 (15.4%) from downtown, something coach Jim Larranaga harped on in his postgame press conference as the deciding factor in the game.
Despite not being able to find the range from three, the Canes continued to battle. Just over 2 minutes into the second half, Steffon Mitchell received a flagrant 1 foul which allowed Miami to take two free throws and retain possession. Despite this golden opportunity, BC wouldn’t let Miami take advantage as they got a key stop and followed it up with a huge dunk by Hamilton that got the crowd of 7,251 on its feet.
The Eagles were able to push their lead to double digits for the first time after Chatman, who finished with a game-high 17, buried a corner three. This three not only added to BC’s momentum, but put the senior over 1,000 points for his BC career.
The Hurricanes were able to put one more rally together as Ebuka Izundu, who led his team with 14 points, finished back-to-back alley oops. Later, he spiked Bowman’s layup off the backboard which led to a Miami run-out and layup that cut the deficit to six with just over six minutes to go.
In the end, it was Nik Popovic and Mitchell who were able to shut it down for the Eagles. Popovic’s double-double with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds was highlighted late. On consecutive possessions Popovic shook his defender and banked in the hook shot to stop the bleeding and then got a tough offensive rebound that led to a Bowman and-1. Finally, after another great defensive possession, it was Mitchell on the receiving end of the and-1 as he came flying in to put back the Chatman miss. His free throw capped an 11-1 run for the home team and pushed the lead back up to 12 with 3:10 left. This lead proved safe as BC prevailed with a 67-54 victory.
The Eagles will have another chance for a big win as they take on a strong N.C. State team in Raleigh, North Carolina on Wednesday. With two ACC wins in a row, Boston College looks to ride this momentum into the end of the season and secure a single first-round bye in the upcoming ACC tournament.