CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — No. 1 and No. 9.
Those numbers indicate the rankings of Boston College’s first two ACC opponents to start the 2017-18 conference campaign.
Earlier this month, the Eagles shocked the college basketball world with a 5-point win over then-No. 1 Duke in Chestnut Hill, and Saturday brought yet another nationally ranked test for upset-minded BC.
However, BC’s bid for a second win over a top-10 team before New Year’s Day came up just short as the Eagles fell to No. 9 Virginia, 59-58, at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Eagles had two opportunities to steal the game with 3.1 seconds remaining as a clock malfunction gifted BC (10-4, 1-1) another possession after a turnover had seemingly won the game for Virginia (12-1, 1-0).
An offensive foul on Nik Popovic on the Eagles’ second chance to pull off the upset ended the game.
“Give [Virginia] full credit,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “They’re so good in those situations, so well-schooled, and so well-taught, that it’s hard to get a clean look. I’m proud of our kids though, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Jerome Robinson continued his torrid pace with 29 points while Ky Bowman struggled with just 5 points.
Bowman’s first points came on a 3-pointer with 11 minutes left in the second half. He finished the game 2 for 10 from the field after entering Saturday averaging 16.8 points per game to lead the Eagles.
“Well, first let me say this . . . Coach Christian has done a great job,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “After they beat Duke they said they believe they have one of the best backcourts in the country, and they do. Those guys were terrific.”
Virginia got a career-high 31 points from Ty Jerome while fellow sophomore Kyle Guy scored 11 points on just 4-for-14 shooting.
“He had 31 but it looked to me that 20 of them came late clock,” Christian said of Jerome’s performance. “Guy is such an issue because you have to be on him so tight and [Jerome] took advantage and played a great game.”
Jordan Chatman scored 18 points after tying a career high with 30 points in BC’s overtime win over Richmond last Saturday.
With the Cavaliers leading, 51-45, with less than six minutes to play, BC got back-to-back 3-pointers from Robinson and Chatman to tie the game. Virginia responded as Jerome connected on two of his six 3-pointers during crunch time as he broke the 51-all tie before giving Virginia a 57-53 advantage with 3:21 to play.
Virginia led, 59-55, with less than a minute to play before Robinson drilled one of his two 3-pointers to cut the lead to 59-58, but they would be the Eagles’ final points of the day.
“I think the team you saw tonight came in here with a whole different mind-set in terms of the belief and the confidence,” Christian said of his squad. “It’s just a different basketball team. We have players playing very well, but that’s a big step for us when a guy like Ky doesn’t play well and it’s still a one-possession game with two seconds to go.”
BC started 2 for 3 from the field but turned over the ball nine times in the first 20 minutes as it trailed by as many as 8.
Robinson led the way with 11 first-half points while Chatman scored 10 as the Eagles shot 40 percent for the half and trailed, 30-25, at the break.
Virginia put in 43 percent of its first-half shots and got 12 points from Jerome.
BC entered the game averaging 41.2 rebounds per game, best in the ACC. The Eagles continued to outrebound their opponents with a 34-33 edge over the Cavaliers. Chatman was the bright spot from beyond the arc for BC as he connected on four of his five 3-point attempts while the rest of the team was a combined 3 for 17.
Boston College will continue its ACC slate at home against Clemson on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.