BC shows their own version of Grit and Grind, wins 60-53

Boston College basketball showed Tuesday night they had the makeup to compete with whomever might line up across from them. The Eagles defended at an elite level, moved the ball with purpose, and played within themselves against the defending National Champion Cavaliers. 

BC came into this one down two starters, with graduate point guard Derryck Thornton out due to an ankle injury, and senior big man Nik Popovic out indefinitely to a back injury. The Eagles had to trot out a starting backcourt comprised of freshman Jay Heath and Julian Rishwain, but ultimately, the X-Factor in this contest ended up being the play of senior guard Jared Hamilton for BC. The Eagles sixth man finished the game with 16 points in 31 minutes of game action, and had the biggest bucket of the night. With 37 seconds left Hamilton hit a corner three to give Boston College a 56-53 lead.

Prior to Hamilton’s clutch trey, Virginia was able to come roaring back into this game by way of a 20-3 run that started at just under the 14 minute mark in the second half, and culminated in the Cavs up 50-45 with 5:16 left in the game. The Virginia run was defined by the play of Kihei Clark and Braxton Key. Clark, he undersized floor general from Woodland Hills, California, finished his evening having played 39 minutes scoring 12 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, and being an absolute gnat on the defensive side of the ball. 

BC immediately answered with an impressive 15-3 run to take a 60-53 lead with four seconds remaining, that was capped with a Hamilton trip to the charity stripe.  This win now moves the Eagles to 3-1 in ACC play, with wins at home against Wake Forest and Virginia, and a road win against Notre Dame. 

“I thought when we got down five we showed a lot of character,” said Boston College Head Coach Jim Christian. “We didn’t stop guarding. I thought we executed against a terrific defensive team. You shoot almost 46 percent against Virginia, you’re executing.”

Along with the stellar play of Hamilton, Jay Heath filled up the stat sheet in an impressive all around game. His constant pressure at the point of attack defensively helped to disrupt a very methodical Cavalier offense. That confidence in turn lead to him filling up the bucket, with a game high 17 points on 6-8 shooting. The freshman rarely got a break in this one as well, sitting or just 1:31 of game action. 

“The things we did well tonight, we need to continue that,” said Christian. Irregardless of who’s playing, we don’t have anyone who can carry our basketball team. When we stay in character we’re a really good basketball team. We play hard defensively. When we’re communicating and rotating and guarding the ball the way we did, just look at the numbers. We’re one of the top seventy defensive teams in the country. It’s not a fluke guys. We’re pretty good.”

The key to Boston College’s success this season will be their team defense. Specifically tonight, the Eagles did a tremendous job disrupting UVA’s flow, by giving them plenty of different looks. Whether it was a traditional full court press, a three quarter court press, or even at times a diamond press look, Head Coach Jim Christian did a terrific job having his defense ready for a big time matchup. 

“We tried to change the looks on them, especially coming out of timeouts,” said Christian. “We full court pressed a few times early in the game. We diamond pressed. We three quarter court pressed. None of it was aggressive. We didn’t turn it over. We just tried to take them out of rhythm a little bit.”