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Takeaways: Eagles escape The Citadel with a Gritty Win



Recap:


The Boston College Eagles were able to hold off the Bulldogs of The Citadel, winning 75-71. After Quinten Post picked up his second foul just 3:34 into the contest, The Citadel was able to keep pace with Boston College, eventually taking a 38-35 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs carried their momentum into the second half, eventually stretching their lead to as much as six points. With Post playing limited minutes due to foul trouble, the Eagles relied on the leadership of Jaeden Zackery, as well as scoring outbursts from guards DJ Hand and MJ Harris. A personal 5-0 run from Harris allowed the Eagles to take back the lead, going up 60-58 with 9:00 to go in the game, and never relinquished it. Zackery led the way for the Eagles, scoring 21 points on 8-12 from the field. Harris and Devin McGlockton each added 12 points, while Hand scored a crucial 14 points off the bench.


Zackery's Leadership:


Veteran guard Jaeden Zackery showed remarkable leadership throughout this game. In a game where the best player in the building was stuck on the bench due to foul trouble, the Eagles desperately needed someone to pick up the slack, and Zackery stepped up and delivered. Zackery played 39 of 40 minutes last night, and the Eagles needed every last one of them. With Post on the bench, Zackery was easily the Eagles’ most valuable player on both ends of the floor, racking up a career-high 21 points and swiping 4 steals en route to the victory. With his stellar perimeter defense and ability to make tough buckets, Zackery is the absolute epitome of “gritty not pretty”.


Concerns in the Front Court:


As mentioned in the game recap, Post picked up two quick fouls in the first half, forcing Coach Grant to take him off the floor. The big man was able to return to the game and finish the first half without picking up his third, but picked up fouls three and four after getting called for a ticky-tack hand check and getting hit with a technical. All together, the Eagles only saw Post on the floor for 19 minutes, in which he posted 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks, a far cry from his 31/11/4 stat line against Fairfield. While Post certainly did not have his best performance, the more concerning issue is the Eagles’ lack of depth in the front court. Armani Mighty was the only forward to come off the bench for the Eagles. And while Mighty looked much improved from last season in spot minutes against Fairfield, he definitely struggled last night, going 0-3 from under the basket. With Mighty still coming into his own, look for Grant to play lots of three-guard lineups with Prince Aligbe and McGlockton in the front court during Post's bench minutes.


Hand as a Spark off the Bench:


The Eagles do not win this game without the performance of sophomore guard DJ Hand. One could argue that, outside of Zackery, Hand was the Eagles’ best offensive player. Hand’s 14 points came on 5-11 efficiency, and the sophomore was able to get buckets both inside and outside the arc. In both games this season, Hand has proven to be an incredibly valuable scorer off the bench, averaging 11.5 points. When the offense got stagnant with Post on the bench, Hand was able to put the ball in the basket in key moments, keeping BC within striking distance. While Zackery has been excellent thus far, the Eagles cannot reasonably expect Zackery to duplicate his stellar performance each night. So having Hand as a spark plug off the bench is crucial, and Grant will continue to give the sophomore guard opportunities to prove himself.


Got the Job Done:


My last takeaway is simple: the Eagles found a way to win this game. In seasons past, this is a game the BC loses (see: the Maine game last year). Away from their home court, the Eagles found themselves in a hole, with their best player having foul trouble all game, and The Citadel shooting over 50% from beyond the arc in the first half. A less mature team might have folded and chalked this game up as “just one of those games”, but not these Eagles. There are those who, understandably so, will say a four-point victory over a bottom-100 team is no victory at all. But the bottom line is simple, Grant and his squad found a way to win. Grant’s mantra has always been “Gritty not Pretty”, and Friday night’s victory exemplifies that perfectly.


What’s Next:


After their tough game on the road, the Eagles fly home for a pair of home games next week. Boston College will take on the Richmond Spiders this Wednesday at 7 PM, followed by an inter-Boston clash against the Harvard Crimson next Saturday at 5 PM. The Eagles will likely be slightly favored in both games, but nothing can be taken for granted with this team. With Richmond and Harvard both ranked within 80 spots of BC in Ken Pomeroy’s Division-1 rankings, both games should be competitive. As I’ve said before, I believe this team has the talent to make some noise in the ACC. And if the Eagles want to have any chance of making a postseason tournament, they must continue capitalizing on their out-of-conference schedule.


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