Boston College’s timing turned out to be right on Saturday. The Eagles needed a reboot between Atlantic Coast Conference games, and they got that and a victory, by a score of 86-72 over Dartmouth.
The Eagles (12-6), who host Florida State on Monday night, were coming off a 30-point defeat in which they were outrebounded, 58-23, by North Carolina. Against the Big Green (4-10), the BC starters had a chance to regain their sharpness, and reserves such as Vin Baker Jr. (career-high 9 points) received sustained playing time.
Ky Bowman (19 points), Jerome Robinson (17), and Jordan Chatman (15) controlled the perimeter for BC. And Nik Popovic (14 points, eight rebounds) and Steffon Mitchell (10 points, 10 rebounds) dominated inside as the Eagles outrebounded the Big Green, 35-26.
“You can’t paint one-game scenarios all the time,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “We’re a good rebounding team. We’re a top-100 rebounding team. We were bad rebounding the ball that particular night against a very hungry North Carolina team.
“Hopefully, we learned our lesson, but if you look at the numbers, we’re a really good rebounding team. It’s going to be a huge key come Monday night. We know it, they know it. It’s going to be a key every night when you play in the ACC.”
The Eagles will likely have to get off to a better start against the Seminoles. BC seemed sluggish in the opening half against the Big Green, going through a four-minute field goal drought and a 7:56 period with only one field goal. The Eagles then converted three 3-pointers in the final 1:56, including a Bowman buzzer three for a 41-38 halftime edge.
Bowman’s shot signaled the start of a 26-4 BC run over 7:59 spanning the halves. A Bowman dunk upped the lead to 64-42 with 13:01 remaining, the Eagles then coasting to the finish.
“We were really hungry because that was a really bad game against UNC, and it was really important for us to come back,” said Popovic, who went 6 for 6 from the field.
Bowman showed the way as the Eagles began breaking down the Big Green’s man-to-man defense, and also stifling the Dartmouth outside threat. The Big Green shot 8 for 13 on 3-pointers in the first half, then went 1 for 10 in the second half.
“We did a bad job in the first half communicating switches,” Christian said. “Second half, we increased ball pressure, and I think that hurt them a little bit.”
BC took an 88-70 victory over Dartmouth last season but did not win a game between Jan. 11, 2017 and this season.
“What we learned from the North Carolina game,” Christian said. “We had five turnovers, in the first half they had three free throws, [but] we were still down 15 points because we didn’t rebound and didn’t guard the ball one on one. And that’s got to happen every single night in this league. To have a chance to win in this league you have to guard the ball and you have to rebound the ball. They know that. So, I don’t know anyone who felt worse than they did that we didn’t do it. So, it’s not emphasized any more because we had a bad performance. When we outrebounded Duke, we didn’t emphasize any more or less. We just have to make sure we do it.
“You can’t worry about one game. It’s one game, guys. It’s just basketball, it’s just something we needed to win that game and didn’t do it. So, it’s more about let’s make sure we do what we need to do to win and not worry about any particular thing that happens in one game. It’s just a one-game story. For that one particular game we did an awful job on the backboard. If you looked at every other game we did a really good job on the backboard. So, be who we are, concentrate on what we need to do to win the game.”