CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Steve Donahue said the source of his frustration over Boston College’s 82-71 loss to North Carolina before 18,115 at the Dean Smith Center Saturday afternoon wasn’t rooted in any one play, in particular Olivier Hanlan’s fifth personal foul on an offensive player control call with 1:31 left in the game.
But it was clear Hanlan’s disqualification was the breaking point that led to head official Tim Nestor whistling the BC coach for a technical foul.
“I was . . . frustrated,’’ said Donahue, stopping mid-sentence when asked what led to the T. “It was the first technical of my career. And I did not use any [foul] language.’’
Said Hanlan, “I don’t think he used any. He was just really frustrated about the call because I feel like when you’re losing, it’s hard to get an offensive call.’’
Donahue certainly would have been within his right to react to Hanlan’s fifth foul with a strongly worded objection after watching his Eagles (5-13, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) gallantly battle UNC on the boards without the services of 7-foot-1-inch junior center Dennis Clifford and twice rally within 1 point (54-53 and 56-55).
But BC fell prey to its second-half shortcomings. The Eagles shot just 38.5 percent (10 of 26) from the floor after the break and committed eight of their 18 turnovers.
“I thought we played well,’’ said Donahue, whose team outrebounded the Tar Heels, 32-29, and got double-figure scoring from all five starters, including a double-double from Ryan Anderson (11 points, 12 rebounds) and a team-high 16 points from Hanlan, who was 9 of 12 from the foul line.
Lonnie Jackson (14 points), Joe Rahon (13), and Eddie Odio (12) went a combined 10 of 16 from the 3-point arc. The rest of the Eagles were 1 of 7.
“I told our guys I thought we fought [and] competed on the glass, which obviously against Carolina is a huge thing,’’ said Donahue, whose team fought back from an 11-point first-half deficit and entered the break trailing, 36-32, after UNC’s Marcus Paige beat the buzzer with a jumper from the top of the key.
“I guess the thing I’m disappointed in is our execution in the last six minutes, similar to [Monday’s 69-59 setback vs.] Syracuse, it’s what gets us,’’ Donahue lamented. “We give up, just don’t execute on the offensive side, and are not really strong with the ball.’’
The breakdown enabled the Tar Heels (11-6, 1-3), who got a game-high 21 points from Paige (including 14 in the first half), to record their first conference victory. It also was UNC’s ninth win in its last 11 games against the Eagles.
“We are very, very pleased, relieved, you can put whatever adjective that you want,’’ said UNC coach Roy Williams, whose team started to pull away when Leslie McDonald’s 3-pointer gave the Tar Heels a 71-61 lead with 4:29 remaining. “But it’s a much better feeling in the locker room.’’
Clifford missed BC’s first 14 games while recovering from offseason surgery for an arthritic condition in both knees. He appeared in two games but on Friday announced he is sitting out the remainder of the season and will seek a medical redshirt. That decision impacts Anderson in the frontcourt.
But the slender, 6-9 junior responded to the challenge of facing UNC’s James Michael McAdoo (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocked shots) by recording his third double-double of the season.
“Clearly it affects me more than any other player that Dennis is going to be out,’’ Anderson said. “But I’m one of his best friends on the team and I just want him to do whatever is best for him. I think with everything he’s gone through, it’s the right decision for him.’’
When Donahue was hit with his first career technical, it was evident the coach had reached his boiling point. Paige made both technical foul shots to give UNC a 78-68 advantage with 1:30 left.
“Any time we see our head coach get frustrated like that, it’s just a culmination of frustrations throughout the game,’’ Anderson said. “I mean, we all back Coach Donahue 100 percent. He felt like it was the right decision to make at the time and we back him 100 percent and we’ll just get back to work and get ready for Georgia Tech.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.