Tyus Battle Leads Syracuse to Victory over BC
By Andrew Linnehan
Sporting their primetime phantom grey city uniforms, the Boston College Eagles welcomed the Syracuse Orange into Conte Forum. Syracuse fans traveled well and had their orange sweaters and jerseys stain the crowd of Eagle fans. BC looked to improve their standing in the ACC with a statement win over one of their rivals despite not having one of their most prolific scorers in Wynston Tabbs, as Chris Herren Jr. got the start.
BC opened the game as the aggressor and took an early 10-2 lead capped by a three-pointers from Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman. However, the early offensive success was not sustained as Syracuse began to assert their defensive scheme. On four separate occasions, BC had to launch desperation shots as the shot clock buzzer sounded, three times leading to a shot clock violation. Passes around the perimeter were aimless at times and interior passes were often deflected by Syracuse’s long defenders. Unless you haven’t seen Syracuse play a basketball game since 1975, you weren’t surprised to see the Orange set up in their 2-3 defense. We should assume that manipulating the zone was the emphasis all week at practice, but as many teams do, the Eagles struggled to find an offensive groove as they went six minutes of game time in the first half without a point. That scoring drought along with threes hit by Marek Dolezaj, Elijah Hughes, and Buddy Boeheim allowed the Orange to go on a 14-0 run to take a 20-15 lead.
Jared Hamilton served as the catalyst off BC’s bench and engaged the Eagle faithful with pesky defense leading to a pair of transition attacks. His presence could not be overstated, particularly considering the absence of Wynston Tabbs. With his consistent effort on defense and best shot-making performance of the season, Jared Hamilton earned his way to 30 minutes of playing time.
Yet, the story of the first half was Syracuse’s offense, which shot 63% from the field while nailing 7 of their 14 3-point attempts. The scoring production for the Orange was balanced as five players scored at least 6 points in the first half alone.
The bulk of the load for the Boston College offense fell upon Jordan Chatman and Ky Bowman, who had 12 and 10 points, respectively, in the opening half.
The second half featured a more passionate and energetic Eagles squad as they fought back to cut their deficit to 2 a number of times. Chatman hit a pair of 3’s in back-to-back possessions to cut Syracuse’s lead to 51-49. Conte Forum was packed to maximum capacity and erupted on two separate occasions in this exhilarating second half. With the shot clock once again approaching zero, Bowman, trapped by a duo of Orange defenders, splashed a moonshot from the corner that seemingly scraped the dust off the bottom of the Women’s Basketball NIT Appearances banner. On another possession, Bowman found a cutting Jared Hamilton for a baseline two-handed slam that led to a roar shared by Eagle fans and Hamilton himself.
Nevertheless, Syracuse refused to cough up their tight lead despite a rocky second half performance. Despite BC’s best effort to will themselves back in, some timely shots from Tyus Battle and back-breaking turnovers for the Eagles proved to be their demise. Chatman lost his hot hand, missing his last 3 three point attempts, while Bowman’s late scoring surge wouldn’t suffice for a comeback as Syracuse walked out of Chestnut Hill with a 77-71 victory.
Due to Syracuse’s stingy defense, BC had their most success scoring when getting to the line and hastily moving the ball with purpose around the perimeter to find Chatman’s hands. BC was rewarded for their insistence to get to the rim as they went 20-23 from the stripe, as the charity line accounted for nearly a third of their total offensive production.
When Syracuse started to cool down from their 63% first half shooting and let BC back into the game, Battle put the team on his back. He scored 16 of Syracuse’s first 23 second half points and rounded out with an impressive game-high 31 points paired with 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Without Battle stabilizing the offense, Syracuse doesn’t win this game.
Tyus Battle is good. There, I said it.
The BC standouts included Bowman who had 21 points (6-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), 2 rebounds, and 4 assists, all of which are below his season averages. He is the nation’s most dynamic guard, after all. Jordan Chatman continued to find his rhythm as he knocked in 21 points (6-15 FG, 4-12 3PT) in all 40 minutes, as Jared Hamilton gave his best performance as an Eagle with 12 points (5-8 FG, 1-2 3PT). Steffon Mitchell, the heart of the team, cleaned up the boards with a game-high 9 rebounds and usual defensive intensity. Nick Popovic chipped in with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and a team-best +5 plus/minus margin.
With the loss, Boston College drops to 11-8 on the season and 2-5 in ACC play. However, Jim Christian’s boys have no time to let this loss linger as they host another rival in Notre Dame on Saturday February 2nd for revenge after they lost 69-66 in South Bend earlier this month. As always, make sure you’re checking out WZBC Sports for the most passionate live coverage of Boston College sports.