Men’s hoops season comes to an end

Photo by Casey Gomez

Tech basketball’s long and tumultuous season came to an undignified end Tuesday as the Jackets fell to Boston College 87-77 in the first round of the ACC tournament.

The Jackets did not go quietly, attempting a second half comeback after trailing by as much as 20 points late in the second half, but the Eagles kept the Jackets at bay and held on to make it out of the first round of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2015. Without any hope of either an NIT or NCAA postseason bid, the Jackets’ disastrous 2017-2018 season  has reached its conclusion.

After a frantic beginning, Boston College stepped on the gas and took a large lead over the Jackets. While the Jackets were able to keep pace, the Eagles dictated the tempo of the game and kept a lead out of reach for most of the game.

Ky Bowman and ACC leading scorer Jerome Robinson combined for 45 points for the Eagles, and Boston College’s Nik Popovic could not be contained by fellow big man Ben Lammers, scoring 20 while picking up five boards in what would turn out to be his last ever game in white and gold.

Tuesday’s game also marked the end of the collegiate careers for two Tech icons — seniors Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson have used up all four years of their collegiate eligibility.

Lammers, a late bloomer for Tech, broke out onto the national scene as one of the nation’s best centers, averaging 14.2 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game and 3.4 blocks per game and was named to Second Team All-ACC in addition to winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year. While Lammers could not keep up his dramatic scoring pace on the floor, averaging 36 minutes per game nursing a knee injury, he was still an impact player for the Jackets from the center position.

Tadric Jackson was a vital sixth man for Tech during his career, frequently coming off the bench to score double digits, and occasionally catching fire to shift the pace of the game. For a Tech squad short on depth after injuries to Josh Okogie and Jose Alvarado during the season, Jackson provided meaningful minutes and scoring. In his last game in the White and Gold, he went out on top — Jackson’s 29 points against Boston College led all scorers and tied his career high in points.

Where does Tech go from here? Hopefully up — with Josh Pastner’s highly touted recruiting class, highlighted by prospects Michael Devoe, Kristian Sjolund, and Khalid Moore, Tech might be ready to rebound from the losses of Jackson and Lammers going into the 2018-2019 season. Abdoulaye Gueye showed glimpses of brilliance and could possibly step in to replace Lammers at center, and Josh Okogie and Jose Alvarado will surely return for next season, bringing their scoring prowess. Freshmen Moses Wright and Evan Cole showed that they could make an impact after being forced onto the court by injury despite planning on red-shirting for their freshmen seasons — so the Jackets are not completely crippled by the loss of Lammers and Jackson.

The Jackets might also take comfort in the fact that the injuries that crippled them throughout the season are unlikely to resurface with such frequency next season. Injuries and suspensions ruined Tech’s tempo going into the season and they never seemed to recover, going on several major losing streaks. If Tech can build momentum early and keep it going into the postseason, it is not hyperbole to think that the Jackets might have a shot at a March Madness bid. This time next year, perhaps Tech will go dancing.