Chestnut Hill, MA – The Boston College Eagles (2-5) were trounced 101-63 when they opened ACC action at home on Saturday against Syracuse. They bounced back Tuesday afternoon with a much needed 78-62 win over the Maine Black Bears (0-3).
The Black Bears opened their season this past weekend after their first three games were canceled due to COVID-19. They committed 16 and 17 turnovers in back-to-back losses at Hartford and their ball security worse went from bad to worse against the Eagles. Maine struggled against BC’s zone defense and full court pressure, turned it over 24 times and had seven players with two or more giveaways.
LeChaun DuHart was one of Maine’s few bright spots and his hot start was the only thing that kept this game close through the first ten minutes of play. The 5-11 freshman guard shot 5-of-11 from three in his first two collegiate contests and opened this one by hitting four consecutive threes. His stroke is quick, compact and he has NBA range. BC tightened up on him in the second half, he struggled to get clean looks and forced a few tough shots. He went 0 of 4 from three in frame and finished with 19 points.
Wynston Tabbs, a 6-2 junior guard, is BC’s leading scorer thus far, but was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes. Without his production, the Eagles used a balanced attack, led by CJ Felder, to build a 43-24 lead at the break. The long, athletic, 6-7, 230-pound sophomore forward got his team going by grabbing boards, blocking shots and scoring around the basket. He has a quick first step, great bounce, can finish through contact and repeatedly penetrated gaps in Maine’s zone. He also showed a smooth stroke from three late in the game and finished with 14 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals and three blocks.
Two transfers, James Karnik (6-9 senior forward from Lehigh) and Rich Kelly (6-1 senior guard from Quinnipiac), came off the bench after five minutes and made an immediate impact. The Black Bears had little answer for Karnik down low, he dominated the glass, finished multiple put backs and had eight points and five boards in the first half. The big man has broad shoulders and a filled-out frame that he used to play with good physicality. He elevates well for boards and dunks with authority but has no perimeter game.
Kelly, primarily known as a sharpshooter, dished out five first half assists and gave the Eagles a needed dose of patience and composure against Maine’s zone defense. While his shot was off, it’s easy to see why he shot 39.6 percent on 6.9 3PAs/G last season. His jumper is quick and efficient, with good elevation.
BC’s top freshman, Demarr Langford Jr, also impressed with his play off the bench in the first half. The 6-5 guard displayed a smooth stroke (from deep and at the line) and had a number of physical drives to the basket, where he looked to initiate contact. He finished with eight points, six rebounds and two steals.
While Felder and the bench unit helped build BC’s first half lead, the starting group, led by Tabbs, Jay Heath and Makai Ashton-Langford, came alive in the second and kept the game out of reach. Tabbs scored off the dribble at all three levels, made plays for others and made it clear that he’s fully recovered from the knee injury that kept him out all of his sophomore season. He hit an impressive stop-and-pop three and flashed to rim for a smooth double clutch reverse finish.
With Tabbs sidelined last season, Heath led the team in scoring as a freshman. He’s struggled to find his form so far this year, but the 6-3 guard broke out against Maine with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists. He’s quick, fast, explosive and routinely gets in the lane off the dribble. He’s also a tenacious defender, who is dynamic on the break and quickly turns rebounds/steals into transition buckets.
Ashton-Lanford brings great energy and makes positive impacts all over the court. The 6-3 junior guard is fast, athletic and thrives in Jim Christian’s full court press and half court zone. He applies excellent pressure to opposing guards, uses his long arms to jump passing lanes and is great at finishing plays on the other end. He finished with nine points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Makai sat out last season after transferring from Providence and is playing his first season alongside his brother, Demarr.
Stephane Ingo (6-7, 200 pound sophomore forward) was the only other major bright spot for a Maine team that started two freshman and two sophomores. He has great length, with decent bounce, and has led the team in both blocks and rebounds so far this season. Ingo has potential, but he’s not yet ready to make plays for himself and his skill set needs work. However, he showed a decent stroke from mid-range and the free throw line, as well as a soft touch around the rim. Despite barely playing in the first half due to foul trouble, he managed to end the afternoon with 15 points and six rebounds.
The rest of the Black Bears’ squad, headlined by 6-8′ senior forward, Vilgot Larsson, 6-1 freshman guard, Adefolarlrin Adetogun, and 6-4 sophomore guard, Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish, all left much to be desired. Larsson was repeatedly featured in the post, but is skinny, lacks bounce and has a limited package of moves around the basket. He struggled to clear space for open looks and was blocked multiple times on attempts in close. He also isn’t comfortable advancing the ball with the dribble.
Adetogun is built like a bull, so he can compete physically, but is inconsistent from the perimeter and didn’t look comfortable attacking gaps or creating his own offense. Wright-Mcleish was on the court for 21 minutes, but did little to impact the game or stand out. It would have been nice to see more of 6-9 sophomore forward Veljko Radakovic. He showed patience and touch in the post, found his teammates for open shots, took care of the ball and posted six points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Boston College played with great energy, which helped snap their four-game losing skid, but they were outscored 38-35 in the second half by a Maine team struggling to score. They don’t play until December 30th, so they have plenty of time to regroup before they face NC State. Maine doesn’t play again until January 2nd when they play host to New Hampshire.