It was far from the aesthetically-pleasing and emotionally-charged victory over Florida State on Saturday evening, but the 25th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish managed to overcome a horrific start in Chestnut Hill to beat the Eagles of Boston College 84 to 76 on Tuesday night.
BONZIE COLSON again led the way with 20 points and 6 rebounds, and Matt Farrell was the driving force behind a 2nd half Irish run to finally pull ahead of BC, scoring 19 points in the game on 5-of-11 3-point shooting. Steve Vasturia added 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds, VJ Beachem dropped in 16 points and snagged 8 boards, and the team shot 19-of-21 from the foul line to close out another ACC victory on the road.
But before the victory, ND had some major struggles.
72 hours before this game tipped off, the Irish played probably their best game of the year against one of the better teams in the country. Thus, it’s not THAT surprising that ND might come out a little flat in a road game against the last-place Eagles. However, even those who saw a letdown game coming could not have predicted how horribly Notre Dame’s defense would perform in the first half.
In the first 20 minutes of the game, Boston College poured in 49 points, shooting 59% from the field and 55% from 3-point range. Plus, they did it in a very Mike Brey-esque fashion, with strong ball movement and 13 assists on 17 made field goals. The Eagles were led in the half by freshman guard Ky Bowman, who scored 17 points and appeared unable to miss from 3-point range in the early going.
ND, meanwhile, constantly looked lost, as even the best of the Irish defenders (Vasturia, Pflueger) fell victim to backdoor cuts, ball screens, and just didn’t rotate fast enough to prevent easy buckets in the paint and from 3.
The Notre Dame offense scored 39 points themselves, but due to the deficit and various possessions ending in turnovers or missed open looks, the Irish didn’t exactly look crisp on that end of the floor either.
The 2nd half saw a re-focused Notre Dame team come out and make a run, led by the big four of Farrell, Colson, Beachem, and Vasturia. The Irish went on a 21-3 run in about a 5-minute span midway through the half to take the lead, and then refused to relinquish that advantage as they continued to hit open shots and string together stops and rebounds on the defensive end.
Another Irish player who played a strong game was sophomore Rex Pflueger, who had 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in his 25 minutes on the floor. His ability to get a hand on BC passes and willingness to hit the floor for loose balls and throw his body around on the glass was critical in helping swing momentum in this one.
His efforts on the boards in the final minutes, including tipping a loose-ball rebound to where VJ Beachem could corral it in the corner with less than 30 seconds remaining likely secured the game, considering the two free throws Beachem hit moments later to extend the ND lead to 4.
For Boston College, Ky Bowman was the high scorer in the game with 29 points on 5-of-11 3-point shooting (plus 9 rebounds). Other top Eagles performances included forward Mo Jeffers with 12 points and 7 boards, and guard Jerome Robinson with 11 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
The Fighting Irish improved to 20-7 on the season and 9-5 in the ACC, while BC falls to 9-18 and 2-12 in conference. Next up, Notre Dame travels to Raleigh to take on NC State at noon on Saturday.