That one was for you, DK.
In a season filled with disappointment and failed expectations, BC provided at least one bright spot for its fans tonight, traveling to the Carrier Dome and toppling the undefeated and top ranked Orange 62-59. This win came during an emotional week for the Eagles as they mourn the loss of longtime Sports Information Director, Dick Kelley, who succumbed to ALS last Thursday. DK’s significant impact on BC’s athletic program and campus was well documented by some of the most high profile athletes and students to come through Chestnut Hill, including Matt Ryan and Jared Dudley.
Although Syracuse jumped out to a double digit lead to start the second half, BC fought back to force overtime using a slow and methodical offensive strategy and an in-your-face-on-the-perimeter zone defense. In the OT, BC continued to dribble the play clock down until the low teens before attempting their penetration and dribble drive. Lonnie Jackson was 4-4 from the free throw line in the game’s final minute and a Trevor Cooney missed 3 with less than 5 seconds remaining sealed the game for the Eagles. Onto some short takeaways…
Lonnie Jackson: BC needed someone to take care of the ball and make their free throws at the end of the game in order to topple the top ranked Orange. While Olivier Hanlan may seem like the logical choice for that role, tonight, Lonnie Jackson stepped up and hit 4 huge free throws to ice the game for BC with under a minute left in OT. This year, it seems that BC has done everything and anything possible to blow leads in the 2nd half and OT. Not tonight. Lonnie protected the ball, hit his free throws and sent BC back to Chestnut Hill as giant killers.
Slow Ball: There were times during this game where Coach Donahue’s offense was akin to getting a root canal. BC’s guards routinely dribbled the ball until there was 15 seconds or less left on the shot clock before attempting to penetrate Syracuse’s defense. The Eagles eventually wore down the Orange and were able to have some success on the pick and role and, most importantly, hit a good percentage of their kick-out 3s. The play of the game came during Overtime with BC down 1. Ryan Anderson caught the ball around the free throw line with the shot clock close to expiration. Rather than shooting an ill-advised lean away or predictable kick back to the perimeter, Anderson found a cutting Patrick Heckmann for a smooth layup and 2 points. Kudos to Donahue. He had a game plan to slow down Syracuse’s prolific offense and it worked. Weird concept.
I’m sure we will have much more on this game in the coming days. Barring them literally running the table, this victory should not save Donahue’s job. Regardless, it was fun. It was the biggest upset in college basketball this year and one that will live in BC lore for years to come. It’s frustrating we haven’t seen effort like this all season. but we will enjoy it while it lasts. If anything, it was just nice to win one for DK. He gave his heart and soul to BC and for one night, this team gave a performance worthy of his memory.