Eagles Pick Up Second ACC Win, Down NC State 74-66
By Quinn Kelly
The Eagles return to the Heights proved to be a triumphant one, improving to 2-0 in the ACC at home as they downed the visiting NC State Wolfpack 74-66. As all Eagles wins seem to be, this win came on the backs of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, the two leading scorers who finished with 24 and 19 points respectively. Robinson continues to be the biggest mistake that 14 ACC schools have made in the last three years (okay, so maybe Jerome falls second for Louisville) as he outshined NC State’s freshman phenom Dennis Smith Jr in front of a number of NBA scouts. The Eagles kept Smith to relative contain and didn’t allow him to lead the Wolfpack to a comeback victory at the Heights.
The Eagles got off to a hot start tonight, jumping out to a 6-0 lead off back to back Bowman threes. They maintained that lead in the early goings, but things started to swing back in NC State’s favor as the Eagles got sloppy with the ball. 10 first half turnovers allowed this one to be a lot closer than it should have been, but eventually strong play prevailed and a 10-3 run to close out the half sent BC to the locker room up 34-32.
The Eagles got right to it at the start of the second half, with AJ Turner opening the scoring with a three that broke up a previously 0-6 shooting night. The latter frame proved much kinder to Turner, as he finished with 10 points with the help of a perfect 5-5 night at the charity stripe. The start of the second half would prove to be back and forth, with the lead changing hands numerous times. But, with 10:41 to go, Robinson would hit a three pointer that would put to rest the lead changing, giving the Eagles a 53-51 lead that they would not relinquish.
Shortly after going up, the Eagles would be given the key to victory in the form of NC State putting them in the bonus with 10:16 left to go. On a night when the Eagles were one free throw shy of perfection, going 18-19 at the line, putting them in the bonus that early eliminated any chance for the Wolfpack to walk out of Conte with a win. Conversely, BC managed to stay out of foul trouble, having only committed two at that point in the second half and refraining from putting NC State in the bonus until under a minute left in the game.
From then on it was gravy. The Eagles peaked at a 9 point lead and staved off every Wolfpack attempt at a comeback. The closest thing to a pinch BC felt was when coming out of a timeout with 1:23 left to go, up 70-64, their inbound play was spoiled by a Dennis Smith steal. Smith was fouled on the breakaway and would go 1-2 at the line. After a blocked layup attempt on the ensuing possession, Smith would again take it down and get fouled on the floor, heading to the line for a 1 and 1. After hitting his first, the freshman would rim out the second and leave the deficit at four with 51 seconds to go. Had Smith been able to capitalize at the line, the Eagles could have really felt the heat, clutching to a two-point lead. But the bitter end to an underperformance on the part of Smith kept it at a two-possession ball game and took some of the pressure off the Eags. The foul game would begin for NC State, but after a pair of AJ Turner free throws put the lead at 8 with 10 seconds left, Ky Bowman would cap off a great performance with a steal on the inbound, causing the Wolfpack to wave the white flag and let BC run out the clock on their second ACC win.
It proved to be a really solid night for the Eagles and one of their better wins to date. The dynamic duo of Robinson and Bowman got the offense going, giving time for others such as Conor Tava and AJ Turner time to heat up. Defensively, BC kept in check a kid who promises to be a future lottery pick, allowing Dennis Smith to only pick up 15 points. They won as a team, shooting a combined 46.3% with an excellent 40% from beyond the arc. They fixed their mistakes, limiting themselves to only 4 turnovers in the second half after a tough start and only allowing 11 points off their turnovers, while forcing NC State to commit 17 of their own and capitalizing to the tune of 23 points. The metrics were certainly there and this game definitely passed the eye test. This team seems to be gelling at the right time and things look good as we head to the meat of the ACC schedule.
The Eagles next matchup will be Saturday in Syracuse, where they’ll try to sweep the season series with the Orange.