By Will Vandervort
Brad Brownell says this has been the most challenging year of his coaching career, and it continued that way on Tuesday night.
Clemson wasted a combined 37 points and 15 rebounds from seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings on Senior Night and had one of its signature scoring droughts as they fell to Boston College, 68-61, at Littlejohn Coliseum.
It marked the first time since 2004 the Tigers lost on Senior Night. It was also their fifth straight loss this season, and their eighth in the last nine games.
“It is a process and you are going to go through these ebbs and flows were you are younger and a little less talented at times,” Brownell said. “It is just part of it. I knew this year would be very challenging with no junior or senior guards.
“It’s hard and it is just very challenging. I knew that. If we could have won a few of these close games, then maybe our confidence would have been better and maybe we would have finished a couple of more off. But hopefully we will learn from it.”
The night seemed like it was going to be Clemson’s when Jordan Roper and Milton Jennings ripped three straight shot to spark the Tigers to a 7-0 lead. Jennings actually scored nine of Clemson’s first 14 points before two fouls sat him on the bench and cooled the rest of the team off.
But the Tigers (13-16, 5-12 ACC) still controlled the game. Booker made a turnaround jump shot with seven seconds left to give Clemson a 29-27 lead at the break. Clemson held its lead through the first 11 minutes of the second half when Damarcus Harrison, who scored 11 points, drained a three-pointer with 9:51 to go for a 46-43 advantage.
But, like clockwork, Clemson’s patented cold streak began on the next possession as the Tigers went five minutes and 27 seconds without a field goal, while in the same process the Eagles went on 12-0 run and never looked back.
It was again a tough pill to swallow, especially on Senior Night.
“We definitely wanted to get the win,” said Booker, who scored a team-high 19 points and had eight rebounds. “We just could not get it. Milt and I left everything out on the court. Whatever we had, we put it out there.
“The younger guys tried, but we just could not get enough stops.”
Jennings finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
“Of course you don’t want to lose on Senior Night, but I thought our team came out and played with great energy and then we kind of lulled to sleep a little bit and let them get the lead.
“From there we struggled a little bit to guard the ball, but I’m not necessarily disappointed. It was still a good Senior Night and it was a great crowd on a Tuesday. A bunch of people stayed afterwards and that meant a whole lot to me and I’m pretty sure to Book too.”
Brownell was disappointed they could not get it done for their two seniors.
“I’m disappointed that we did not send our seniors out in a better way,” he said. “I thought those guys competed hard tonight and certainly were very productive. We didn’t make enough threes again. We have not shot the ball well from there the past few games.”
And once again, Clemson lost another close game, just like it has all year.