Sunday, March 26, 2006
This weekend was all about college sports, which is rare in New England. Boston College was in the Sweet 16 in both men's and women's basketball. BC was also in the NCAA hockey tournament along with BU, Maine, UNH, Harvard, and Holy Cross.
The weekend started off poorly for BC with a heartbreaking 60-59 loss to #1 seed Villanova on Friday night. The Eagles should have and could have won this game. They pulled out to a 16 point lead in the first half and were playing their brand of basketball then for some reason allowed Villanova to set the pace for the rest of the game. Nova came back but BC led by 8 points with 10:00 left in regulation and blew that lead too. Down the stretch, BC really shot itself in the foot at the foul line and offensive possessions that went nowhere.
BC did not score from 3:07 left on the clock until Jared Dudley hit his 3 pointer at 0:28. Coming down the stretch, that is a terrible drought. Only BC's defensive play prevented Villanova from running away with it. The Eagles went 3 for 7 from the foul line, several of those misses coming with less than 5:00 on the clock and the front end of a 1 and 1. Overall, BC was 8 for 17 in the game and Villanova was 14 for 20. In a game as close as this, that is a huge differential.
In OT, the Eagles simply looked frazzled. They missed their first three shots, not scoring until 2 minutes into overtime. By then they were down by 5. Craig Smith got it within one with a drive to the hole and the foul on the play gave BC a chance to tie it at 56-56. But Smith missed it.
The game came down to BC with the ball and 18 seconds on the clock. They were down 58-57. They inbounded and Craig Smith hit it to take the lead with 12 seconds on the clock. At first, BC defended Villanova perfectly. Then on an inbound play, the Eagles let Nova inbound it beneath the basket. Will Sheridan put it in for the Wildcats and the Eagles were sent back to classes.
Craig Smith had a good day but not one his best. He had 14 points, and 14 boards, but he was 2 for 6 from the line and turned the ball over 7 times. The only player that rebounded consistently besides Smith was Sean Williams who turned in another good defensive performance (7 rebounds, 3 blocks). Boston College turned the ball over 21 times, while forcing Villanova to turn it over 10 times. Near the end of the game, the turnovers were hardly even forced by Villanova. Passing the ball to no one, bad dribbling, et cetera.
BC had a great run this season. They finished 3rd in the ACC, and was on the precipice of greatness all season, losing by only 2 to Duke twice, and losing to #1 Villanova by a single point in OT. They had a team capable of winning it all. They just made a few too many mistakes near the end.
The BC women also fell just shy of making the Elite 8, losing to 5th seeded Utah 57-54. This came after BC upset #1 seed Ohio State to make the Sweet 16.
Here's the good news for BC. They won in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament 5-0 against Miami-Ohio. Also winning in the first round was BU. Holy Cross pulled a major upset by beating 3rd in the country Minnesota 4-3. Also in the first round, Maine beat Harvard 6-1 and UNH barely fell to Michigan State 1-0. The big match-up for the second round was BC vs. BU. The game was played in Worcester and the winner would be going to Milwaukee as part of the Frozen Four. Boston College had lost to BU in their past 4 meetings, including a 1-2 OT loss in the Hockey East Championship game and a 3-2 loss in the Beanpot. BC got revenge though, with a 5-0 drubbing that sent BU packing back to Boston and sent the Eagles packing for Wisconsin.
Boston College was joined in the Frozen Four by North Dakota. Today Cornell plays Wisconsin, and Maine plays Michigan State for the last two spots. BC will be up against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the national semi-finals, which will be in less than 2 weeks.