The final score does not capture what kind of game this was and what sort of game it became, but in the end, Boston College left with the win they sought.
On Wednesday evening in State College, PA, the Eagles defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions, 73-61. With the win, Boston College moves to 3-4 on the season and 6-1 all-time in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. It is BC’s first road win of the 2012-13 season, and also their first since late in the 2010-11 season (the Eagles did not win a road game in 2011-12).
Boston College led the game virtually all the way, eventually building a seven-point lead to take into the half despite poor early shooting. Penn State showed some fight coming out of the half for a few moments, but the Eagles blasted off to as much as a 20-point lead with a little over five minutes to play. The Nittany Lions would have none of it, though, melting down a huge BC advantage to just three points in the span of about two minutes of game time. Penn State increased their defensive intensity and the Eagles had difficulty holding onto the ball, while the Nittany Lions converted some big baskets.
Fortunately for Boston College, they were able to make some big baskets themselves to get the lead back up to a few scores with just minutes remaining, and then late free throws helped the Eagles back up to their final 12-point margin.
Despite the extreme scare BC got at the end of the game, there were some positives. Once again, the freshmen, Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, showed up and had big games for the Eagles. Hanlan led all Boston College players with 22 points while Rahon came in second with 14. The Eagles also slightly controlled the rebounding margin against the Nittany Lions and were able to come up with some good offensive possessions thereafter. For much of the game, BC was also ahead on second-chance points, making the most of the eight offensive rebounds they corralled. The Eagles did their part at the charity stripe, converting on 75% of their free throw attempts.
The 18-1 Penn State run to narrow the gap from 20 to 3 was more of a freak occurrence, though Boston College will still have to learn how to get better at dealing with pressure in late-game situations. They’re also going to eventually have to get production from Ryan Anderson again, who was once more limited in what he could do, likely because of his injury. Speaking of injuries, Dennis Clifford only gave the Eagles eight minutes. Andrew Van Nest got most of the “big man” minutes at 23, and he made a few nice plays to end up with 9 points and 4 boards.
At the end of the day, it’s a win and Boston College will take it. They could have folded up when Penn State went on their insane run, but they didn’t, and they’ve bounced back from an embarrassing loss against Bryant.
BC returns to action on Tuesday at home against Harvard.