Notre Dame bests Boston College behind strong second-half performance
Manuel De Jesus | Wednesday, February 15, 2017
It took some time to get ahead of the ACC’s last place team, but No. 25 Notre Dame pulled away in the second half with a 21-3 run and came away with an 84-76 victory over Boston College on Tuesday night.
Boston College (9-18, 2-12 ACC) freshman guard Ky Bowman carried his team in the first half, scoring 17 points in the period, including three 3-pointers. Bowman’s strong first half, along with sophomore guard Jerome Robinson’s nine points, propelled Boston College to a 10-point lead over the Irish (20-7, ACC 9-5) at the half.
In the second half, however, Irish head coach Mike Brey made a defensive change that limited the Eagles’ potent offense.
“In the first half, we just could not guard them. They really had good, young perimeter guys,” Brey said. “ … I think the story was we defended better in the second half. Played a little zone, changed it up. We went zone, and that changed their rhythm. We made some big shots and big free throws, which this team — our guys have done that.”
In a span of about five minutes during the second half, the Irish exploded offensively behind a couple of 3-pointers from junior guard Matt Farrell and five points from senior forward V.J. Beachem. Irish junior forward Bonzie Colson, who was named ACC Player of the Week for his play last week against Wake Forest and Florida State, gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game with a put-back dunk at the 12-minute mark. Colson, who used to watch his father coach at Conte Forum, said being at the stadium Tuesday brought back old memories during the game.
“It’s always good coming back here, you know, reminiscing all the times that my dad has coached being on the floor, from practices and games,” Colson said. “It just brought back a lot of memories, and I’m happy we came up with the win. We needed that, and it was a good team win. We gotta move on to [North Carolina] State.”
Brey acknowledged that the Eagles’ offense was much more efficient than Notre Dame’s in the first half, as Boston College shot 58.6 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. He credited the Eagles’ coaching for how well their offense played against the Irish defense.
“It was like clinic stuff,” Brey said. “When [Eagles head coach] Jim [Christian] speaks at a clinic this spring, he’s going to show first half stuff against us when he’s talking about his offense. They cut us up left, right, slip and ball screens, and we had no answer for it. We were better in the second half. We started man, but then we went to two big guys and played zone. I think we got six straight stops in zone. What happens is, all of the sudden, you’re not in your man-to-man offensive rhythm. You’re not running and cutting and you’re playing a little differently, and that helped us.
“It changed their rhythm, and we went back man and were still able to finish and get some big stops. We made big shots, and [sophomore guard] Rex Pflueger got his hands on a big offensive rebound, and what we’ve done — again, we make big free throws. We went 19-21, we lead the nation and it’s an unbelievable weapon when we get into the bonus.”
Brey also said he knew coming into this matchup that Boston College would target Colson given the week he had, but he was proud of how well Colson took the challenge.
“Bonz is Bonz,” Brey said. “They defended him pretty good, and I knew they’d come after him after the week that he had last week, but I thought he let it come to him and made some plays and kept it simple.”
Colson said despite his strong performances that have put the Irish on a three-game winning streak and have earned him national recognition, he’s not complacent with where the team is now.
“It’s been unbelievable, but I’m staying hungry and humble and motivated to get the team to where it needs to be,” Colson said. “I have great teammates who put me in great situations to do what I can do. As a team, we’re just rolling right now. We’re playing really well, and we just need to keep it up.”
Notre Dame will look to extend its winning streak against North Carolina State at 7 p.m. Saturday, as the Irish travel to Raleigh, North Carolina.