Boston College Drops Hard Fought Game to Virginia Tech Hokies

JB McCandlesCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 4:  Rakim Sanders #15 of the Boston College Eagles dribbles the ball to the basket during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on January 4, 2009 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  The Boston College Eagles defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 85-78. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Can Boston College play two full halves this season?

December 6th vs. Miami, good first half, bad second half; December 30th vs. South Carolina, same story; January 13th at Duke, good first half, bad second half; Last week at Miami, bad first half, good second half. Saturday's game a Virginia Tech was a similar story.

The Eagles trailed by nine at the half way point, but came soaring back to take a three point lead 62-59 to take a three point lead on a pair of Reggie Jackson free throws. Jackson had team highs in points (15) and rebounds (6).  

Boston College juniors Cory Raji and Rakim Sanders, along with sophomore Dallas Elmore each contributed 10 points. For Elmore, it was a career high. 

Last week, BC had been fortunate to win at Miami and they tried their luck again on Saturday against Virginia Tech, but BC would fall short by one point.

Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney would go to the foul line on the other end and sink a pair a free throws too. The score was 62-61 with 21 seconds remaining. All BC had to do was get the ball in and make their free throws...they completed one of those tasks.

Biko Paris received the inbounds pass, but was trapped on the baseline and a jump ball was called. Sure enough, the possession arrow pointed to Virginia Tech. Tech's Dorenzo Hudson scored on a put back basket with five seconds remaining to give the Hokies their second ACC win.

The clock had read 9.8, but it had stalled for what officials figured to be four seconds. Clock issues have been a continuous theme this year in college basketball. BC's final effort was stopped as they weren't able to get a shot off in their last possession. 

In the first half, Virginia Tech held a nine point lead, only to see the Eagles fight back to within one point at 15-14. The Hokies then used a 23-10 run to claim a 14-point lead (38-24) with 3:31 left in the half. BC held the Hokies scoreless for the remainder of the half. A Raji field goal and a Tyler Roche three brought BC to within nine points at 38-29. 

At the beginning of the second half, the two teams played neck and neck basketball, until BC exploded on a 10-0 run to take a 43-42 lead with 13 minutes remaining. The lead soon disappeared when Virginia Tech went on a 3-0 run. That run was followed up by sophomores Reggie Jackson and Dallas Elmore scoring back-to-back baskets giving BC a two point lead with eight minutes left. 

It was 55-51 Virginia Tech with four minutes remaining and the crowd was getting loud when Jackson buried a three to bring the Eagles within one. Junior forward Joe Trapani would add another basket giving BC yet another one point lead.

BC led 60-58 with just over a minute remaining. A free throw by Tech's Hudson made it 60-59. This was the score until Jackson sank the two free throws giving them a three point lead, which was followed by a Virginia Tech 4-0 run, giving them the win. 

Despite the low score, Boston College shot 55% for the game. The difference in this game was turnovers. BC had 20 turnovers, 10 of which were from guards Biko Paris and Reggie Jackson. Virginia Tech scored 26 points off those turnovers and Boston College was truly lucky to even have a chance to win this game.

For BC, turnovers are a very fixable problem and it’s a better problem to have than struggling with scoring or defense.

Certainly a bright spot for the Eagles was 30 points contributed by the bench. You got to think that this is a good sign. The turnover problem can be dealt with and if the starters can get back to their top form, the Eagles will put themselves in good position to win some games.  

Defense has keyed this Eagles team all year and the tail of two halves showed yet again to be a major trend. BC was down by nine at half and Tech was shooting 45% from the field. In the second half when BC held the lead, the Hokies were shooting just 32%, including 0-5 from beyond the arc. It has been a problem all year for the Eagles and if they want to be playing in the NCAA Tournament they are going to have to be more consistent. 

BC will head home after playing four of their last five on the road. Their record in those games was 1-4. BC stands at 2-4 right now and in a tie for ninth place in the ACC. It's still early, but BC can really only afford three or four more losses if they want to keep their at-large chances alive. 

The schedule doesn't get any easier for BC (hard to believe). They will host Clemson on Tuesday the 26th, which will be showcased on ESPN2...hope to see a raucous crowd of super fans at that one. Following that game, BC stays at home to play the always tough Florida State and the top ranked Duke (another game on ESPN).

The home court hasn't exactly been good to the Eagles this year, but neither has the road. However, BC has played well in big games this year. The early season wins at Michigan and Providence followed by homes wins verse South Carolina and Miami.