While it hasn’t garnered much attention nationally this is a big year for Tim O’Shea’s Bryant basketball program. After four seasons as a provisional Division I member the Bulldogs are finally a full member, which makes them eligible to compete for the Northeast Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
With four starters back from last season’s team, led by junior forward Alex Francis, there is hope that a team picked to finish 10th in the NEC can compete for one of those eight NEC tournament spots.
And Bryant took a step in that direction on Sunday as they knocked off Boston College 56-54 at Conte Forum, their first-ever victory over an ACC school.
Frankie Dobbs finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds, and Dyami Starks scored all 17 of his points in the second half to help lead the Bulldogs in a game they trailed by eight with just over nine minutes remaining.
Olivier Hanlan paced the Eagles with 19 points, but leading scorer Ryan Anderson (eight points and 14 rebounds) and Dennis Clifford (two points, ten rebounds) both struggled offensively. When those two combine to shoot 5-of-18 from the field, Boston College is going to have a hard time winning.
But even with those two struggling one would expect Steve Donahue’s team to find a way to beat a team that entered Sunday’s meeting 0-4 against Boston College, with none of the defeats being by fewer than 16 points.
Bryant didn’t shoot well from the field (32.8%) or from three (8-of-15) but they turned the ball over just ten times and outscored Boston College 24-12 from beyond the arc. And with that you can add Bryant to the list below.
The win is Bryant’s third straight (their first three-game win streak since the 2010-11 season) and they’ve also surpassed their win total from last season (two). Regardless of where Boston College was picked to finish in the ACC (they were picked last, FWIW) this is a big day for Tim O’Shea and the Bryant Bulldogs.
“Five years ago, the biggest game on Bryant’s schedule was Bentley,” O’Shea said after the game. “Five years later, we’ve just beaten Boston College on the road. It’s a big deal.”