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February 1, 2014

Eagles Blow Late Lead

When BC played tough against Syracuse earlier in the month Steve Donahue was quick to credit the solid performance as a product of the difficult non-conference schedule that his team plated.

"I thought this midway through the game to myself-the reason we are competing with the #2 team in the country is because we've been through so much already this season that it's not fazing the guys," explained Donahue.

The coach went on to say, "The schedule has set us back with our records but I'm believing that its helping us now, it will help us in a month and it will help us next year."

While the challenging schedule might have helped the Eagles against Syracuse it certainly didn't seem to lend a helping hand down the stretch against Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, as the Eagles fell to the 'Irish 76-74.

If you turned on the game and watched the final ten seconds of regulation then it would be easy to pin the loss on All-ACC point guard Olivier Hanlan. BC's leading scorer missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left with his team up one, and topped that mistake by fouling Notre Dame's Eric Atkins with 1 second on the game clock when Atkins wasn't close to being in good shooting position. Atkins eventually hit one of two free throws to send the game into overtime.

There's no doubt that Hanlan made a horrible error, but the truth is that the team shouldn't have even been in that position where one mistake could cost them the game. Over the final 6:23 of regulation, BC allowed 20 points on 11 possessions, which is 1.81 points per possession. To put that number in perspective, the worst defensive team in the country allows 1.21 points per possession.

The only two possessions that BC picked up a defensive stop was when Pat Connaughton missed a wide open three with 2:07 left and Garrick Sherman's offensive rebound put back missed as well, and when V.J. Beachem missed a wide open three with 1:04 left. Aside from that, Notre Dame scored every time it got the ball over the final 7:00 of regulation.

When the game was on the line the Eagles could simply not get a stop when they needed to against a team that in ACC play is 8th in offensive efficiency, 11th in three point shooting, and 11th in free throw shooting. Notre Dame isn't a team that hides the way it plays either. The 'Irish are dead last in the conference in free throw rate, meaning the percentage of their shots that are free throws are lower than any other team in the conference. Notre Dame is a shooting team through and through, and their players were allowed to take too many open jumpers all game.

The announcers were quick to point out on many occasions that the Eagles have no seniors and the 'Irish are led by two seniors and a junior in Atkins, Sherman and Connaughton respectively. However, what the announcers missed was that the 'Irish were playing with two freshman in crunch time with Auguste and Beachem, which kind of outweighs the whole senior edge. If you compare Notre Dame's lineup with the three juniors and two sophomore that the Eagles played with down the stretch all of a sudden it doesn't look like such a mismatch in seniority. Saturday was the 54th game that the group of juniors and sophomore on BC have played with each other. With so many games under their belts together the coaching staff and the team have to play better down the stretch.


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