The numbers get scarier with each game. A 14-point loss to North Carolina State led into a 15-point loss to Wake Forest, which led into a 17-point loss to Virginia.
But margin of defeat is the least of Boston College basketball coach Steve Donahue’s concerns these days.
It’s the other things, such as defensive breakdowns and sagging intensity for prolonged stretches, that prove to be the difference.
Yesterday at Conte Forum, the Eagles did it again - playing 33 minutes of fierce, competitive basketball in a 40-minute game.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the collapse came in the final seven minutes, as Miami went on a 23-4 run that resulted in a 76-54 win. BC has lost four straight, dropping to 7-14 overall and 2-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“The last seven minutes, we kind of gave up and caved in,’’ said forward Matt Humphrey, who led the Eagles with 13 points, 9 in the first half, after which the Hurricanes led, 34-31. “We have to get over the hump.’’
Some of the numbers the Eagles posted were downright frightening, such as 17 turnovers and only 10 assists.
“The turnovers and assists have to be reversed,’’ said Donahue. “We had lapses. Down the stretch, they made us pay for those.’’
Who would have guessed that a game with 17 lead changes and 11 ties would end in a 22-point blowout.
The Eagles did a lot of things right, until seven minutes remained. But when Donahue looked into the huddle at the television timeout, he saw tired faces, and spirits that were sagging despite the score.
What he feared turned into reality. Miami (12-7, 3-3), led by the powerful inside combination of forward Kenny Kadji (14 points, 7 rebounds) and center Reggie Johnson (12 points, 5 rebounds), and the overall play of guard Durand Scott (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals), scored the next 14 points, and the outcome was settled.
“When you have a veteran group, you can do some things,’’ said Donahue, who used three timeouts in a two-minute stretch to attempt to stop the onslaught. “We used as much energy as we had for as long as we could.
“Our Achilles’ heel is that we’re not that great with the basketball. We don’t share the ball enough, we’re not that hard to guard. We have to get better execution.’’
Donahue is not sure when it will change for the better. The Eagles have nine freshmen, and are missing one of them, guard Patrick Heckmann, who has mononucleosis.
“It’s a combination of both physical and mental,’’ said Donahue when asked if he could pinpoint the Eagles’ shortcomings. “It’s a concern. You have to figure out a way to play when you are exhausted. It’s discouraging. This is all about trying to figure out how to get over the next hurdle. That’s why it is hard to win when you are young.’’
And that is probably why the Eagles are making Donahue feel older with each game they play.Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.