Eagles’ plan has some holes
Sharp-shooting Yale cuts through BC zone
The basketball revival mapped out by Boston College took an unexpected detour last night with a 75-67 loss to Yale in a nonconference game at Conte Forum. The Eagles failed to get their 1-3-1 zone defense in gear and were off target from the perimeter, two platforms for new coach Steve Donahue.
“They executed, their kids played with great confidence and poise, shared the ball, made shot after shot, showed great character,’’ Donahue said of Yale. “I thought we did a decent job defensively but, obviously, they exposed us on certain things. And we’re not a good offensive team right now — getting better. But we didn’t give up, played hard, tried to do what we want. We’re just not there yet.’’
Reggie Jackson (30 points, eight rebounds) kept BC (1-1) in contention but also shared blame in the Eagles’ uninspired defense.
Yale (1-2) converted 12 of 21 3-pointers, Austin Morgan setting the tone by going 5 for 6 from deep in the opening half.
“Personally, I didn’t take care of my assignment,’’ Jackson said. “Coach told me Morgan is a great shooter and I let him get two quick threes. At the beginning of the game I have to take it upon myself to shut down their best player sometimes and I feel like I failed at it.
“For the most part, we still have to grow up mentally. Coach can only do so much. If you were here last year, you’re seeing the same stuff. We come out and, clearly, we’re not taking it serious. We’re not mentally prepared. We’re coming out slow and they jumped on us and the whole game we were playing catch-up.’’
Morgan’s floor guidance and 3-point ability forced the Eagles to abandon the 1-3-1 in the early going. Yale effectively milked the shot clock and limited BC’s transition offense with high-percentage shooting. BC switched to man-to-man soon after a Brian Katz 3-pointer gave Yale a 14-7 lead 6:43 into the contest.
The Eagles finally began finding a rhythm, going on a 12-5 run that included Josh Southern’s first field goal since returning from a lower-body injury. BC tied the score at 19-19 as Jackson dunked off a steal with 6:33 remaining in the half. But Yale called time out and set up Morgan for a 3-pointer with three seconds on the shot clock, and then Morgan hit another 3-pointer in transition for a 6-point lead with 5:18 left.
“We didn’t have the energy to play our defense,’’ said Donahue. “We just weren’t flying around like you typically have to play that defense. And we had to get out of it.’’
Yale kept up its hot shooting in the second half, converting four consecutive 3-pointers, the third and fourth by center Greg Mangano. Morgan’s jumper made it 48-30 with 14:34 remaining.
BC soon got its defense in synch, holding the Bulldogs to one field goal in the final 5:14. But it was too late.
Morgan’s jumper with the shot clock winding down upped Yale’s lead to 65-53. Then, Jackson hit a 3-pointer and two free throws to reduce the Eagle deficit to 7 points. BC’s three-quarter-court press led to a Yale timeout with 3:40 left, before Porter Braswell’s jumper at the shot-clock buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 67-58 advantage with 3:14 remaining. That would be Yale’s final field goal.
The Eagles got within 67-62 and had several chances to close the gap, Cortney Dunn missing two foul shots with 1:22 remaining and Biko Paris and Dallas Elmore misfiring on 3-pointers out of a timeout. Braswell then converted six successive foul shots in a 24-second span.
“Offense isn’t always going to go well, defense is going to have to take care of us throughout this season,’’ Jackson said. “Basically, we’re going to have to be a defensive-minded team to get to where we hope to be. Coach is going to keep pushing us with our defensive schemes.’’
BC, which hosts Holy Cross Monday, was coming off a 30-point win over St. Francis (N.Y.) last Friday.
“This is a big step back,’’ Donahue said. “Not that I want to lose, I never want to lose. But I expect this is going to be part of growing this program. There’s going to be bumps in the road. We’re going to accept failure and we’re going to get better because of it.
“There’s a lot of little things going through my mind we’ve got to be better at. And it’s not their fault. This is dramatically different than how they were taught to play. Whether it’s better or worse, it’s just extremely difficult.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.