Eagles hold off Hoosiers
Jackson, Paris power offense
Coach Steve Donahue was planning to play an uptempo style, opening spaces with long-distance shooting, in his first season at Boston College. And the Eagles showed signs of doing that in an 88-76 victory over Indiana in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game last night at Conte Forum.
“I thought it was just a great college game, I thought both teams played terrific basketball,’’ Donahue said. “The thing I most admired with our team — I thought Indiana played so great at the beginning of the second half, and nothing was going right at that point. And I thought we had great resolve, just fighting through it.’’
BC (5-2), which plays UMass at TD Garden on Saturday, led by as many as 14 points in the first half. But Indiana (6-1) cut the deficit to 1 late in the second half, before BC rallied on the shooting of Biko Paris, who tied a career high with 19 points, and Danny Rubin.
Indiana got back in contention with 6 points in a 23-second span in the opening minute of the second half, leading to a BC timeout with 19:13 remaining. Tom Pritchard’s dunk cut the Hoosiers’ deficit to 43-37 with 18:25 left. But BC went to the low post to stretch the edge to 51-41, Paris completing a 3-point play off a Josh Southern feed and Joe Trapani taking a lob and then finding Cortney Dunn for a 3-point play with 16:37 left.
Indiana had gained an offensive rhythm, though, and the Hoosiers twice rallied to within 1 on Jordan Hulls jumpers. But after Hulls got it to 60-59 with 7:21 remaining, BC pulled away with an 18-6 run that included three Rubin 3-pointers.
Rubin started the run with his first field goal of the game with four seconds on the shot clock and 6:48 left. Two more Rubin 3-pointers, two Reggie Jackson drives, and a Paris three and backdoor layup over a 4:47 stretch made it 78-65 with 2:01 to go.
“When you’re at that point, you go with it,’’ Paris said. “I knew they were going to make a run and if we withstand their run, basketball is a game of runs. It’s just about who makes the most runs and also who’s able to withstand those runs.’’
BC found a balance with an inside-out offensive scheme in the second half, Southern handing out three of his career-high four assists in the half.
“[Southern] was a key guy, he was so terrific,’’ Donahue said. “He’s another weapon teams have to deal with.’’
Both teams shot 28 for 55 from the field, Indiana staying in contention as Christian Watford had a 23-point outing that included two 3-pointers and two power dunks.
But the result could have been costly for BC, as leading rebounder Corey Raji sustained a head injury after drawing a foul late in the opening half. Raji converted a foul shot for a 31-19 lead with 5:52 remaining, then scored 4 more points in a 1:59 span before leaving the game for good.
Donahue said Raji will be evaluated today.
The Eagles maintained the momentum gained in winning two of three games in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
“I’ll take that any night, 50 percent [shooting]. I believe we can beat anybody in the nation,’’ said Jackson (game-high 27 points). “I believe that tournament made us more hungry. A few plays here or there and we possibly could have had a chance to win the tournament. So, I believe everybody is still hungry. It showed tonight, how we kept our heads, kept our cool, and pulled out the win.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.