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Saint Louis 62, BC 51

Effort is there in BC’s loss

Turnovers costly for young Eagles

By Mario Aguirre
Globe Correspondent / November 25, 2011
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ANAHEIM, Calif. - In the infant stages of a young team’s season, sustaining a high level of play has been Boston College’s most arduous task.

For nearly 14 minutes against Saint Louis yesterday, the Eagles led in the game by hauling down offensive boards, forcing outside shots, collapsing on post players, and poking away entry passes.

It couldn’t be sustained, though. Saint Louis turned a pair of BC turnovers into fast-break buckets, helping flip an 8-point deficit into a 15-point advantage. The Eagles narrowed the deficit in the closing minutes but ultimately fell, 62-51, in the opening round of the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center.

BC (1-3), which suits up nine freshmen, mustered only 43 shots and committed 20 turnovers (leading to 18 Saint Louis points).

Junior guard Matt Humphrey and freshman forward Ryan Anderson led the way with 12 points apiece. Humphrey made 5 of 15 shots, scoring all of his points in the second half. Anderson scored 10 of his 12 after the break, hitting half of his 10 shots.

Freshman center Dennis Clifford was efficient (4 of 6), though most of his production came in the first half. He hauled down eight rebounds (four offensive), with seven coming in the opening half, when he scored 8 points.

After falling behind by as many as 15 points, the Eagles rallied with a 3-pointer by Humphrey, then two steals and two Humphrey layups, slicing the deficit to 58-51.

“I was very pleased with our effort,’’ said BC coach Steve Donahue. “The guys are continuing to work hard and make strides in several aspects of the game - most important, learning to compete for as many minutes as we can.

“We probably didn’t do 40 [minutes] as well as I would have liked, but we’re getting closer each and every time.’’

BC had a chance to get even closer, but Humphrey missed a free throw, keeping the score 58-51, and Saint Louis sank two foul shots and a layup for the final margin.

“Going over film yesterday and the day before, we knew they were going to be a hard-nosed team,’’ Clifford said. “I think we all came here to battle.

“I think some of the little mistakes prevented us from getting the lead or pulling off the ‘W.’ But I think we did a great job competing and we’re definitely getting much better at that.’’

BC suffered its third straight loss since opening with a 67-64 win over New Hampshire.

Patrick Heckmann, a freshman guard who had averaged 15 points in BC’s two most recent games, was held to 1 point in 13 minutes.

“Both his ankles now have been sprained pretty severely over the last couple of weeks,’’ Donahue said. “He’s obviously an integral part of what we’re doing, but there’s nothing you could do about it.

“Every college team goes through these kind of things with injuries.’’

BC jumped out to its largest lead, 13-5, with Clifford scoring 6 points. But the Eagles turned the ball over twice, leading to fast-break baskets - the second giving Saint Louis a 24-22 advantage with 2:05 left in the half.

The Billikens (4-0) then got 5 points from Kwamain Mitchell, who scored a game-high 20, to take a 29-23 lead into halftime.

“I think the progress will be, as we compete, we execute better,’’ Donahue said. “We turn the ball over way too many times and I sense these guys understand and they’re going to get better, and I saw a lot of that today.

“When it got to 15 two weeks ago - and they hadn’t gone through what we just went through with UMass and Holy Cross - I think you would have had a hard time getting to those guys that we had to go back and get good possessions to get back in this game. And I think that’s what you saw.

“We had a chance in the end to make a little run, and it’s another step. You get little ones and little ones and it starts to snowball.’’

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