CLEMSON – Senior Nights have mostly been good to Clemson, with the Tigers entering their home finale against Boston College with a 71-29 record in those games.
Tuesday was mostly good, too – until a bunch of youngsters decided to make it Kids Night before 7,102 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Boston College’s youth-laden team opted to lie in wait for much of the game before making a move on the Tigers with just under nine minutes to play. Once the Eagles did the Tigers had no answer, falling 68-61.
The Eagles went on a 12-0 run to turn a 46-43 deficit into a 55-46 edge and Clemson never led again.
The shot that gave Boston College a 47-46 lead marked its first advantage of the game, and it came courtesy of a Ryan Anderson jumper.
“Obviously disappointed we didn’t send our seniors out in a better way,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We competed hard but we just didn’t make enough threes. Our perimeter guys did some good things but we missed some open shots.
“A lot of these games are two or three (3-point shots) from being different.”
Freshman guard Olivier Hanlan led the way for the winners with 24 points and Anderson, a sophomore forward, added 18 more as BC improved to 14-16 overall and 6-11 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“(Hanlan) is very good, very poised, plays with confidence,” Brownell said. “Got in the paint a lot and played really well. He’s a good player already and he’s going to be a great player in this league.”
The youth movement overshadowed an outstanding showing by the Tigers’ two seniors, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings.
Booker had a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds, while Jennings had 18 points and seven boards.
“It’s pretty upsetting,” Booker said. “We wanted to win but we just couldn’t make enough stops to make it happen.”
Jennings said the loss was a product of the same problem that has plagued the team throughout the season.
“We came out and played with a lot of energy but then we fell into a lull,” Jennings said. “We take teams to the wire and get them sweating but we don’t know how to win.”
Clemson has now lost five in a row with a road date on Saturday against No. 6 Miami.
The Tigers also continue their free fall in the ACC standings. At 13-16 overall and 5-12 in the league, only Virginia Tech has more losses in the conference.
On Tuesday both teams shot around 45 percent from the floor but the Tigers made just three of 16 3-point tries and were outrebounded 37-32.
Clemson had 14 turnovers to BC’s 11.
“Defensively we had a hard time guarding them in the second half,” Brownell said. “We got whistled for some fouls that got our guys tentative. We get in a rut where we have six or eight minute droughts and it’s because we have holes on the team.”
Jennings came out strong in the early going, collecting nine of his team’s first 14 points and leading an effort that helped Clemson keep Boston College at bay for most of the half.
Each time the Eagles would close the gap the Tigers surged, and the hosts led 23-16 with 7:14 left in the opening period – with a chance to put some distance between themselves and the visitors.
But the Eagles remained cool down the stretch, tying the game twice before settling for a 29-27 deficit at intermission.
Jennings and Booker had nine points apiece to lead Clemson while Anderson was good for eight BC points.
The teams would continue that path until the Eagles took a lead – and took control three-quarters through the contest.
BC also benefited from Anderson’s 11 boards, while Joe Rahon scored 10 points to give the victors three double-digit performers.
Damarcus Harrison added 11 points for the Tigers.