Boston College Falls to Western Kentucky in the NIT: Notes + Player Grades
The Eagles' Season Comes to an End
Well… that wasn’t the greatest way to end the season.
Leading 24-19 at the end of the first quarter at Western Kentucky, the Eagles would be outscored 60-38 over the next 30 minutes, falling to the Hilltoppers 79-62 in the first round of the NIT. For BC fans everywhere, it was very unpleasant to watch and understandably ends the season on a bit of a sour note, but do not give up hope.
Yes, BC didn’t play very well tonight. Yes, the Eagles had a legitimate chance to make some noise in the NIT and weren’t able to rise to the challenge. Yes, BC put up just 62 points--their second lowest total for the year. Yes, yes, yes, yes… this was a bad game.
Boston College Basketball took a big step forward this season. Do not forget that.
With that in mind, check out our postgame notes and player grades from this hideous loss, then forget it ever happened. For now, we’ll keep our analysis strictly about game and save the “season in review” stuff for later to give everyone a chance to digest the season.
-BC switched back and forth between man and zone throughout the game, but nothing ended up working. Finishing 25-36 from inside the arc, the Hilltoppers were practically scoring at will for a lot of the game. With Justin Johnson (19 points on 12 shots) and Darius Thompson (17 points on 12 shots) shooting so efficiently, BC would’ve been hard pressed to win even if they played well on offense. All the little things, the Eagles didn’t do very well tonight. Covering screens, rotating on help, communicating on cuts, and not-fouling were all issues. It was clear BC only had 48 hours to gameplan for this one.
-BC shot terribly from three (4-19), but don’t blame that on the extended three point line. Steffon Mitchell going 2-3 from downtown and everyone else going 2-16 is just bad. Jerome Robinson (1-7), Ky Bowman (1-6), and Jordan Chatman (0-2) all vastly underperformed tonight--much of the reason the Eagles put up a sad 62 points.
-In the first half, BC was +5 on the offensive boards and overall was +10 in shot attempts. Steffon Mitchell and Nik Popovic were holding their own against Justin Johnson and Dwight Coleby. In the second half, the Eagles gave up 10 second chance points and were -7 on the boards. Many of the Toppers’ second chances were long rebounds off of missed jumpers, which the BC guards have to do a better job covering.
-BC had 0 free throws for the first 23 minutes of the game. Meanwhile, in the second quarter alone, BC had 8 fouls themselves and sent the Toppers to the line 8 times. Luka Kraljevic, Nik Popovic, JC Reyes, and Ky Bowman were the main offenders. The refs didn't do BC many favors (most notably a very questionable blocking foul on Chatman), but it wasn't pretty either way.
-Above all the stats, one thing was very evident while watching this game: Western Kentucky was tougher, more experienced, and played with a lot more poise than Boston College. This Hilltoppers team was one point away from making the NCAA Tournament and they seemed to be taking their anger out on BC. Just from the eye test, the Eagles were outmatched in almost every aspect of this game, which is a shame, and they deserved to lose. Yes, BC played very poorly, but winning on the road against WKU was a tall task from the beginning.
Jerome Robinson: C
(17 points, 8-20 FG, 1-7 3FG)
In what may be Jerome’s last game in a BC uniform (only time will tell), he tried to do a little too much. He was aggressive, but his trigger was a little too quick tonight as he was more than willing to take threes early in the shot clock. He also had just one rebound, while the Hilltoppers starting backcourt had four offensive boards alone. Hopefully this isn't Jerome's swan song, as it wasn't that great.
Ky Bowman: C+
(18 points, 6-17 FG, 1-6 3FG, 7 Rebounds, 5 Turnovers)
Ky was aggressive at the hoop, but everything else was a struggle. Finishing with just 2 assists and 5 turnovers, Ky just didn’t do enough tonight as a point-guard and overall the team struggled because of it.
Steffon Mitchell: A
(8 points, 3-7 FG, 2-3 3FG, 10 Rebounds)
Steffon played harder than arguably anyone on the floor tonight and was 2-3 from deep. He was a monster on the glass (6 offensive boards) and did everything he was supposed to do. Defensively, sticking with Justin Johnson was a struggle, but considering how the rest of the Eagles played defensively, it’s hard to blame Steff too much. Steff is the MVP of tonight for BC--which unfortunately isn't saying much.
Jordan Chatman: C-
(6 points, 2-7 FG, 0-2 3FG)
This has been a recurring issue this season, but when Chatman isn’t making any threes, his value drops dramatically. He was alright from inside the arc (2-5), but an inability to stretch the floor killed BC. Defensively, Chatman is better off just sticking with his man at all times--his help defense is not very helpful. With all three guards playing below average, BC was doomed.
Nik Popovic: B-
(11 points, 5-9 FG, 0-1 3FG, 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists)
Pop had some nice moves to the basket and shot alright, but he was nowhere near the force he was in the first two games of the ACC Tournament. With the team shooting so poorly from three, they needed to establish a post game and Pop was somewhat successful, but it wasn’t enough.
Luka Kraljevic: D
(0 points, 0-0 FG , 2 Fouls)
Luka played 4 minutes, picked up 2 fouls and didn’t do anything else.
JC Reyes: D
(2 points, 1-5 FG, 2 Fouls)
Reyes played 7 minutes tonight, missing three point-blank looks at the rim and getting blocked on another attempt. Not his best night.
Overall, this game was bad. BC had a chance to generate some excitement in their first postseason tournament since 2011, but unfortunately, the opposite happened. At the end of the day, the Eagles’ inability to succeed on the road was their down fall and this game was not close at all. It was painful.
But for almost every team in the NCAA, the season ends in a loss—and life must go on. For now, the season is over and hopefully the Eagles have turned the corner for the better.
Over the next few weeks, EagleAction will be breaking down the season in detail and getting ready for next year.
To BC fans and the team itself, it is time for a rest.
As always, Go Eagz