By Dan Gardella
Brooklyn – Through the first two and a half days, the story of the tournament has been the underdogs. Notre Dame and Boston College, both double digit seeds marched their way into the quarterfinals with a chance to help their cases for postseason play. After taking care of Georgia Tech and upsetting North Carolina State, The Boston College Eagles faced the Clemson Tigers, who are in the midst of their best season in recent memory
Clemson did not want to have any upsets on their resume come selection Sunday. Behind 25 points from Gabe DeVoe and 21 points from Shelton Mitchell, the Tigers advanced to their first ACC Tournament Semi-final since 2011 with a 90-82 victory over Boston College Thursday afternoon.
Out of the gate, it was Boston College who seized the opportunity to keep their run in Brooklyn alive. The Eagles scored the first seven points of the game and managed to lead for the first eight minutes of the game. At the 11:50 mark of the first half, Mark Donnal nailed a three pointer to give Clemson an 18-16 lead. The two-point lead would explode to double digits several minutes later as Anthony Oliver II’s three pointer gave the Tigers a 31-20 lead with 7:05 left in the first half. Boston College would fight and find themselves down 7, 43-36 at the half. The biggest positive for Clemson was that they managed to hold Boston College guards Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson to a combined 7 points in the opening 20 minutes.
That would change very quickly.
In the second half, Bowman and Robinson would steal the show as the Eagles had one last comeback hope. Trailing 52-37, Robinson and Bowman would score 17 of Boston College’s next 21 points to bring them within three at 61-58 with 6:33 remaining. Following their comeback run, Shelton Mitchell would make a jumper to give Clemson a four-point lead with five and a half minutes to play.
Boston College would continue to fight tooth and nail but Clemson would ride Mitchell and DeVoe. After a plethora of free throws exchanged in the final minutes and change, Clemson saw themselves advancing.
The key to the Tigers’ success was plain and simple. Stop Bowman and Robinson. The duo entered the game averaging 47.5 points per game through the first two in the ACC Tournament. They managed to score 46 points but on a mere 10-32.
“We tried to make them make tough plays and try to run them in transition. They played three games in three days. They had tired legs.” Said DeVoe on the defensive gameplay on Bowman and Robinson.
Clemson’s next opponent? The Virginia Cavaliers, who the Tigers only managed to score 36 points against in their only regular season meeting in a 61-36 loss on January 23rd.
“They are big, they are strong at every position, they are athletic and they are obviously sound fundamentally.” Said Clemson head coach Brad Brownell on why Virginia is hard to score against.
In their only meeting, Clemson was without Donte Grantham, one of the Tigers’ more experienced players.
For Boston College, they finish their positive run in Brooklyn 2-1 with positive momentum towards what is likely to be an NIT bid come next week.
“It feels good. It sucks to watch it on TV. You don’t want to be on spring break. You want to be playing in March and be a part of March Madness. It’s the college basketball dream.” said Jerome Robinson on the run his team made over the past few weeks.
One thing that was reiterated from Eagle head coach Jim Christian: Respect.
Boston College (19-15) will wait to see where they will play come next week.
Clemson (23-8) will spend at least one more night in Brooklyn and take on top seed and top ranked Virginia tomorrow night.