Holy War Rematch: Djogo’s Hot Shooting Boosts Irish to Victory
By Alex Sayfie
On Saturday afternoon, the Boston College Eagles took on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Conte Forum for the teams’ 33rd matchup all-time. During their last meeting on January 12th in South Bend, the Irish prevailed in a close fought battle behind big man John Mooney’s 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The defeat dropped BC to 0-11 vs. Notre Dame since both teams joined the ACC from the Big East.
Heading into the game, the Eagles hoped to avenge their previous loss and break their losing streak against their Holy War rivals, while the Irish aimed to get their second ACC win after losing to five straight conference opponents.
Junior Ky Bowman made his mark on the game early, as he knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing for BC’s first bucket and followed with his signature bow and arrow celebration. The star guard is the only player in the country to be averaging at least 20.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks, and is the third leading scorer in the ACC behind Duke NBA prospects, Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
Within the first couple minutes it became clear that Boston College was going to need a strong offensive performance to compete in this game, as Notre Dame guard Nikola Djogo scored the team’s first 8 points in just his fourth start of the season. The Eagles also saw some good outside looks early in the game against the Irish’s 2-3 zone defense, but were not able to get many of them to fall.
On the opposite side of the floor, it seemed that Eagles’ head coach Jim Christian had an obvious gameplan to stop Notre Dame’s Mooney from inside scoring after his performance in the teams’ prior matchup. Although BC successfully defended the big man in the first half–double-teaming him in the post to hold him to 4 points–their emphasis on the inside left Notre Dame’s guards open behind the three-point arc. The Irish capitalized, knocking down a blistering 7-of-12 3-point shots in the first half.
With under 7 minutes to go in the first half, the Eagles cut the Irish’s lead to one point, intending to take their first lead of the game since it was 3-2 two minutes into the game. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Notre Dame went on an 11-2 run in the next four minutes behind hot shooting from guards D.J. Harvey, Prentiss Hubb, and Djogo. Bowman responded with five straight points of his own to cut the Irish lead to 36-31 at halftime.
After a fairly silent first half, BC forward Nik Popovic was aggressive offensively in the second, scoring the home team’s first couple buckets. Mooney returned the favor on the other end of the floor with a dunk and some free throws during the following two Irish possessions.
A turning point for the Eagles came three minutes into the half after a Jared Hamilton dunk to unleash the crowd, tie the game, and force Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey to call a timeout. Hamilton would go on to finish the game with his Boston College career-high 17 points.
The Irish quickly stole back the lead as they continued their hot shooting, but the home team stayed in striking range. Next, it was Bowman hitting a smooth jumper from the free throw line to give the Eagles their first lead since the beginning of the game. Another lead change and seven minutes of game play later, the hero of the Heights displayed his talents once more with a shifty move to the basket, laying the ball up and in and shrinking Notre Dame’s lead to 66-65 with under 4 minutes to play. Conte Forum erupted and Coach Brey was quick to stop BC’s momentum with a timeout.
Ultimately, the Irish’s offense would be too much to overcome and the Eagles would lose their second-straight game at home, 79-73. Three-point shooting was the difference maker as BC converted 7 of their 23 attempts while Notre Dame was able to knock down 10 of 20 shots behind the arc. Djogo finished with his Notre Dame career high 21 points, and Bowman continued his statistically dominant season with 25 points and 10 boards.
The Eagles will have another opportunity to climb the ACC ladder on Tuesday as they travel to Durham, North Carolina to take on the star-studded no. 2 ranked team in the country, the Duke Blue Devils.