Three games into the season and the Boston College men’s basketball team was still left searching for its first win after a 95-92 loss to Toledo in the Eagles’ home opener before a sullen Conte Forum crowd of 3,538.
BC dropped to 0-3, squandering a 48-40 halftime lead against their visitors from the Mid-American Conference in the regional round of the 2K Sports Classic.
The Rockets got double-digit scoring production from four of their five starters with the notable exception being their leading scorer, Rian Pearson, who had 9 points on 4-for-8 shooting. Julius Brown led the way for Toledo (2-0) with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 10 assists, and Justin Drummond added 20 points, hitting a pair of foul shots that tied the game, 86-86, with 1:21 to go.
The Rockets outrebounded BC in the second half, 20-7, to finish with a 31-27 advantage.
Nathan Boone had 17 points in the low post while J.D. Weatherspoon chipped in 13.
“Obviously disappointed and got to go back to work tomorrow and try to figure this out,’’ said BC coach Steve Donahue, who got double-figure scoring from three of his starters. Sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan scored a team-high 18 points and Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon added 15 apiece. Freshman Garland Owens came off the bench to chip in with 12 points.
It marked the first time Donahue had a BC team score 90 points since a 93-77 victory over Bryant Dec. 19, 2010. It was, however, the first time BC had scored that many in a loss since a 98-93 setback vs. Duquesne Dec. 28, 2006.
The Eagles have led at halftime in all of their losses.
“These guys, if anything, want to win too much,’’ Donahue said. “So maybe it’s nervous energy because they don’t know how to do it yet as a group. But obviously it’s on the defensive side of the basketball for the most part.
“With that, I haven’t done a good job. I don’t feel secure on either side of the ball, to be honest, right now,’’ Donahue added. “I know there’s enough guys and I believe in them and have enough confidence in them. We’ve played three good teams and Toledo is going to be a really good basketball team, but we didn’t play really well like I know we can.’’
After the Eagles twice led by 6 (22-16 and 25-19) midway through the first half, Toledo tied it with a 6-point spurt on Drummond’s baseline dunk, a lane penetration by Brown, and a pair of foul shots by Brown that tied it 25-25 with 9:16 left.
BC answered with a 14-3 run that was sparked by Eddie Odio’s putback and capped by Rahon’s 3-point burial, giving the Eagles a 39-28 lead with 6:08 left before halftime. A 3-pointer by Odio expanded the lead to 44-32, which provided the cushion BC would need to control a 48-40 lead at the break.
After Rahon drained a trey with 7:04 left to give the Eagles a 75-69 lead, both teams engaged in a parade to the charity stripe, combining for 12 foul shots and only one field goal over the next 3:01. A pretty baseline hook by Nathan Boothe pulled the Rockets within 80-74 with 4:32 to go.
It was at that juncture that Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk reminded his players, “We’re the best team on the floor.’’
The Rockets went out and proved it when Drummond tied it at 86 with a pair of foul shots and Brown hit a stepback jumper in the lane to put Toledo ahead with 55 seconds left.
Patrick Heckmann (10 points), who scored on a foul-inducing basket to pull the Eagles within 90-89 with 28.1 seconds left, drew contact from Weatherspoon as he attempted to heave a 3-pointer, got the whistle, and went to the line with a chance to tie it at 92. He made the first two shots, but missed the third off the back of the rim, enabling the Rockets to control a 92-91 lead with 8.8 seconds left. BC made 33 of 40 foul shots and Toledo hit 29 of 37.
“Not just brushing this off, but we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and this is who we are right now,’’ said Donahue, whose team will host Florida Atlantic Sunday night. “We’ve got to dig ourselves out of it. I feel really good about every guy in that locker room and that we can be a very good basketball team.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.