Eagles Close Out Impressive Season at Conte Forum with a Flourish, Defeat Syracuse 85-70
By: Zack Sluka
Entering the final home game of the 2017-18 season, the Boston College held a 13-3 record on their home floor and held a 12-2 record when scoring over 80 points in a game. Holding true to this script, the Boston College Eagles (17-13, 7-10 ACC) defeated the Syracuse Orange (18-12, 7-10 ACC) by the score of 85-70 to close out their home schedule at Conte Forum. Boston College’s 18th win, and 7th in the ACC, clinched Jim Christian’s first winning season as the coach of the Eagles, and presumably grants his team a birth into the National Invitational Tournament. As a team, the Eagles finished the contest shooting 14 of 27 from beyond the arc, which gave them the upper-hand against a Syracuse team that has now dropped its last 3 games. The usual suspects for the Eagles, Ky Bowman, Jerome Robinson, and Jordan Chatman fueled the team’s scoring in this one. Bowman, who started the game 4 of 4 from 3-point land, finished the contest with 23 points, and Robinson, who came on strong in the second half, finished with 22 points. Jordan Chatman, who has been known to be a streaky shooter, proved to be an integral part of the Eagles’ scoring attack tonight, contributing 18 points on 5 of 10 shooting from behind the arc. Although the Orange received an astounding performance from star sophomore, Tyus Battle, who poured in a game-high 29 points, BC was able to dominate the majority of this one and come out with a commendable victory.
The beginning of the first half between the Boston College Eagles and Syracuse Orange could be best described as a three-point shootout between two teams that are led by nationally recognized guards. Ky Bowman, the star point guard for BC, hit an early 3 pointer to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead early in the game. At the under-16-minute media timeout, BC led Syracuse 10-3, a lead which was fueled by offensive composure and defensive tenacity. In the last meeting between these two teams, BC turned the ball over 17 times, which was a point of emphasis that they sought to correct in the sequel to this season series. Early on and throughout the first half, the Eagles moved the ball with pace, giving the often turnover-ridden team an opportunity to find its signature shooters. On the defensive end, the Eagles forced 3 quick turnovers from the Orange, which allowed the home team to jump out an early 7-point lead. As the first half went on, the theme of the half continued to unfold. Boston College, through the likes of Ky Bowman, Jerome Robinson, and Jordan Chatman, began the night shooting an astounding 5 of 7 from 3-point land. Syracuse, though, did not falter on the other side of the ball. Headlined by potential All-ACC First Team player Tyus Battle, the Orange connected on 4 of its first 6 shots from deep. As the hot shooting perpetuated throughout the half, a troubling statistic came into the picture for the Eagles. Johncarlos Reyes, starting this game at center, picked up his 3rd personal foul late into the half, and Nik Popovic, coming off the bench for BC, picked up a quick 2.
After holding a double digit lead for a majority of the first half, BC entered a scoring drought of over 4 minutes following the under-4 media timeout, allowing Syracuse to put together an 11-0 run to pull the game within 1 point. At halftime, the score tilted in the favor of the Eagles as they led 40-37. Ky Bowman, a constant scoring presence for the Eagles in the first half, led the Eagles with 17 points on 5 of 6 shooting from 3-point land. On the other side of the ball, Tyus Battle led the Orange with 20 first half points, connecting a 4 3-pointers of this own.
Despite Ky Bowman dominating the headlines in the first half, Jerome Robinson and Jordan Chatman, the other two prolific scorers for this Eagles team, sealed the win with dominating second half performances. Robinson, who finished the first half with 10 points to his name, paced the Eagles in the second half offensively, finishing with 22 points on the day. Jordan Chatman, the third guard on this Eagles team and a great compliment to Bowman and Robinson, hit three 3-pointers early in the second half, and his third 3-pointer of the half propelled the Eagles to a 15-point lead. After getting up by 15 points, the Eagles were able to eke out the win over Syracuse. Bowman, Robinson, and Chatman were able to continue to find open looks against the Syracuse zone and were also finding many baskets in transition. Furthermore, at the end of the game, the contributions of Nik Popovic and Luka Kraljevic were not to be dismissed. Popovic finished with 11 points for Eagles, including making 5 of 6 free throws in the latter stages of the game. Luka Kraljevic, who saw large minutes in the second half as a result of the foul trouble that BC faced, made 4 of 4 free throws in the latter stages of the game. Despite a late scare from the Orange that brought them within single digits of the Eagles, BC was able to pull out an 85-70 victory over Syracuse to close out their home schedule on a supremely positive note.
The Road Ahead:
Boston College will conclude its regular season schedule on Saturday when it travels to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles (19-10, 8-9 ACC) at 2pm. On January 15th, BC defeated the Seminoles in Chestnut Hill, 81-75. Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson each scored 19 points, fueling the Eagles to their third ACC victory of the season.
Photo: Stephen D. Cannerelli