LOUISVILLE — Jim Christian doesn’t particularly care for history, at least when it comes to the Boston College men’s basketball team he coaches.
He shot down a question in mid-sentence Sunday about the team’s road losing streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It reached 21 games just moments earlier as the Eagles, despite a valiant comeback late, fell to Louisville, 77-69.
“I’m building a program, and building a program means establishing winning at home,” Christian said. “We’re 10-1 at home. Establishing opportunities to give yourself a chance to win in a very difficult league on the road. That’s what I’m doing.”
For a moment late, it looked as if that work might just have paid off.
After trailing 67-49 with 3:57 left, the Eagles went on a 15-1 run to get back in the game. They kept it up even into the last minute, when a Jordan Chatman 3-pointer made it 71-69 with :33 left. Louisville interim coach David Padgett had started taking out his starters as the clock wound down, only to reverse course late because of the Eagles’ run.
However, BC never got a possession with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Boston College fell behind for a few reasons. For one, the team that shot an ACC-leading 40.1 percent from beyond the arc in conference play made just 8 of 29 shots (27.6 percent). Overall, the Eagles shot a season-low 35.4 percent
“We got to learn to play 40 minutes, like we did at the end of the game,” Jerome Robinson said. “Make wide open shots. I mean, we shot terrible. We’re one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the ACC, so we just got to make open shots. And we were missing a lot of open shots, and just not finishing at the rim.”
For another, the Eagles did not have answers for a couple of streaky Cardinals. Deng Adel’s 18 points and 10 rebounds all came in the second half. The junior scored 9 of those points during a 12-2 run that allowed Louisville to take a 46-33 lead with 15:39 remaining.
The Eagles scratched back to within 48-43 with 12:19 left before the Cardinals used another 12-2 run to make it a 15-point game and — seemingly — take control of the game.
Padgett said one of the adjustments his team made in the second half was forcing the Eagles’ guards to drive on the weak side. In the first half, he noted, BC’s backcourt went 6 for 6 on drives going to the right side.
“Their guards are very potent offensively, you could see that,” Padgett said.
In the first half, BC went on a 12-0 run midway to take a 17-11 lead with 9:24 remaining. But they couldn’t find an answer for 6-foot-7-inch Jordan Nwora, who starred at Vermont Academy last season and came off the bench to get the home team back in the game.
The freshman forward, who didn’t play in three of Louisville’s four previous games, scored 6 points in his first minute of action and the Cardinals next 8 to make it 19-all with 6:43 left.
Nwora, a Class AA All NEPSAC selection last season, scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half. His two free throws with :24 left gave Louisville the lead for good at 31-29.
Robinson, the ACC’s leading scorer in conference play, finished with 19 points despite feeling under the weather. Christian told reporters that his junior guard needed to leave the game in the first half because he was vomiting during a timeout.
“My stomach was just bothering me a little bit before the game, and then once we got up-and-down, I was like, ‘I need to go the bathroom,’ ” Robinson said. “I had to get it out of me.”
Ky Bowman had his second straight poor shooting performance. The sophomore guard went for 16 points but made just 5 of 22 shots. He also fouled out for the first time all season and had seven turnovers to two assists.
Christian credited Louisville’s defense — its length primarily — for disrupting Bowman and Chatman, as both combined to make just five of 19 3-pointers.
The last time BC won on the road in ACC play was March 2, 2015, when it beat Virginia Tech, 66-59. None of the Eagles current players were on that team, and while Christian touted the progress his team has made, he added that winning on the road in conference play is the next step to becoming a contender for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“We’re no different than anybody else,” he said. “We don’t worry about anything that’s happened. It’s all part of the process, and now we’re trying to, this year, give ourselves the best opportunity. A win on the road today would’ve been a great opportunity for us.”
The next opportunity for the Eagles comes Wednesday, when they travel to Syracuse.