This one’s going to sting. Late miscues cost Boston College in a 79-73 home loss to Notre Dame Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame, despite entering the game 1-7 in ACC play, is always a huge draw in the Boston area, so Conte Forum was filled to capacity for one of only a few times this season.
Nikola Djogo got a rare start for the Irish and quickly made an impact. The junior came in averaging 1.9 points per game but scored 11 points in the game’s first 10 minutes. He finished with a career-high 21, almost double his previous career-high of 12 last season against North Carolina.
Notre Dame’s leading scorer on the season John Mooney was held relatively quiet in the first half but finished with 15 points and 13 boards, notching his eighth double-double in nine ACC games and fourteenth overall. Mooney capped the day with a 3-pointer in the game’s final minutes to open up the Irish lead.
TJ Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb joined Djogo and Mooney as double-digit scorers for the Irish. Gibbs finished with 19 after posting only one basket in the first half.
Wynston Tabbs missed his third straight game, with a knee injury, and the sight of him on crutches can’t instill ease in the minds of BC fans. Tabbs, an electric freshman who can score from all three levels, was expected to be a big weapon for the Eagles in conference play, but the nagging injury has kept BC’s second-leading scorer out of five of the team’s eight ACC matchups.
Transfer Jared Hamilton and freshman Chris Herren Jr. Have split starts in his absence, with the scale tipping toward the more experienced Hamilton lately. Hamilton’s physical brand of defense earned him 29 minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s loss to Syracuse. He got the start against Notre Dame and recorded a season-high 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He appears especially comfortable on baseline and mid-range jumpers.
Hamilton’s 17 were second on the BC side, behind Ky Bowman, who scored a game-high 25. Bowman is the ACC’s third-leading scorer, trailing only Duke’s RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.
Notre Dame stifled BC with zone defense early on, but the offense did a better job of finding big men Nik Popovic and Steffon Mitchell and the top of the key than the team had done against Syracuse. Bowman even got in on the action, knocking down a few turn-around jumpers from the elbow.
Boston College entered the second half down five but quickly evened the score. The game remained deadlocked throughout much of the second quarter. Notre Dame would extend leads and BC would keep coming back. When the Eagles did take a lead, they were never able to extend it; BC’s largest lead on the day was 2 points.
With around five minutes remaining and BC trailing by three, Bowman tried to hit Jordan Chatman off a screen, and the ball slid through Chatman’s hands to the Notre Dame defense. Notre Dame missed on the next trip down the floor, but Bowman and Chatman both reached for the rebound and knocked the ball out of bounds. These plays didn’t lead directly to Notre Dame points, but it took valuable time off the clock a prevented BC from cutting the deficit. The sequence of play also highlights the lapses that plagued the Eagles down the stretch.
Notre Dame led 77-68 with 30 seconds left, but the Eagles fought to the final buzzer. A little bit of life came back into the departing Conte Forum crowd with BC’s 5-point possession the next trip down the floor.
Popovic got fouled tipping in a miss by Bowman. Popovic missed the free throw that would’ve completed the 3-point play, but the rebound went to Bowman who dribbled out and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. The Eagles only trailed by four, but two Notre Dame free throws and a Bowman miss sealed the game.
The Irish improve to 2-7 in ACC play, with those two wins coming against Boston College. The Eagles have never beaten Notre Dame in an ACC game (0-12) and have lost 18 of their last 19 head-to-head matchups.
The road only gets harder for the Eagles, who travel to Cameron Indoor and the Carrier Dome this week. They play their only matchup of the season against No. 2 Duke Tuesday and complete the season series against Syracuse Saturday.