Chestnut Hill, MA – The Boston College Eagles (3-9, 1-5) and University of Miami Hurricanes (5-6, 1-5) have both struggled to win close games as of late. The Eagles hung tough with Duke and Virginia in recent days but lost both and entered the night losers of four straight. The Hurricanes recently lost three straight one-possession games in ACC action, before winning on Saturday at NC State.
The Hurricanes came into Conte Forum on Tuesday night looking to start a winning streak, but it was all Eagles from the jump. Both teams played zone, but only one team had the shooting to break it down. BC hit early and often from deep and finished 18-of-35 from three in a convincing 84-62 win.
Jay Heath (6’3” sophomore guard) got off to a hot start and helped BC jump out to an 18-12 lead early. He finished a few aggressive takes in transition, had a patient finish off a cut, and hit a catch-and-shoot three. Heath has great speed, quickness, and strength and plays with a ton of energy. The next step for him is to hit threes at a consistent rate and he did just that, hitting 5-of-8. He finished the night with 25 points (9-19 FGs), seven rebounds, and four assists in an impressive all-around performance.
After Heath’s hot start, Rich Kelly (6’1” senior guard) and Steffon Mitchell (6’8” senior forward) took over and expanded BC’s lead to 44-34 at the break, behind a combined 6-of-10 three-point shooting. The senior leaders played like the veterans they are and were instrumental in breaking down Miami’s zone from the inside-out. Mitchell finished with 12 points (4-7 FGs, 3-4 3s), seven rebounds, and two assists.
It was a great team win for the Eagles, but Kelly shined the brightest. He hit shots all over the court, was in complete command against Miami’s zone, and took great care of the ball. He is a floor general who has the ball on a string, creates for others, and is a knockdown shooter. He hit three consecutive three-pointers to open the second half, giving BC a 58-36 lead, and hit again to make it 70-44. Kelly finished his career night with 27 points (10-16 FGs, 7-12 3s), four assists, and two rebounds.
It was a tough game for Miami’s leading scorer, Isaiah Wong (6’3” sophomore guard), and top recruit, Earl Timberlake (6’6” freshman guard). The pair’s inability to shoot from the perimeter made it tough for the Hurricanes to create open looks against BC’s zone and they never went on a substantial run.
Wong is a quick, shifty player, who can break down defenses, but BC was able to trap his drives and keep him out of the paint. He hit a mid-range pull-up and a transition layup in the second half but was quiet for most of the night. He finished with six points (3-9 FGs, 0-5 3s), five rebounds, and three assists.
Timberlake is a special athlete but was thoroughly unimpressive. He showed no interest in shooting jumpers, didn’t look comfortable attacking the zone, and disappeared for long stretches. After quickly starting 2-of-2 from the field, he picked up two fouls and spent the rest of the half on the bench. He finished with 12 points (5-8 FGs), eight rebounds, and two assists but was not a difference-maker.
With Miami’s stars neutralized, Harlond Beverley (sophomore) and Elijah Olaniyi (senior) kept them afloat in the first half and were their team’s only bright spots. The 6’5” guards used their electric speed and quickness to get to the rim and kept coming all night. However, they couldn’t do anywhere near enough to match BC’s three-point barrage. Beverley finished with 10 points (5-8 FGs, 0-1 3s), five rebounds, and two assists, while Olaniyi posted 14 points (5-11 FGs, 2-4 3s) and six rebounds.
Both teams will be back in action this coming Saturday. The Hurricanes will look to get on track at home against Louisville, while the Eagles will try to keep it going on when they travel to Notre Dame.