BC pushes Duke to limit at Conte

February 06, 2010 - 2:16 pm
Boston College almost made Duke'€™s annual trip to the Heights a nightmare for the second straight season Saturday at Conte Forum. Joe Trapani'€™s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was unsuccessful, and the Eagles fell short 66-63, a month after the No. 10 Blue Devils embarrassed BC at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke (19-4 overall, 7-2 ACC) led by 10 with less than four minutes to go, but the Eagles chipped away and pulled to within one point before falling just short before a crowd of 8,606. The loss probably leaves the Eagles (12-11, 3-6) on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA tournament. Only North Carolina, Miami and NC State were in the Eagles' wake coming into the game. '€œRight now I can'€™t even think about or worry about postseason because we haven'€™t really put ourselves, in my opinion, in a position to consider that,'€ said BC coach Al Skinner, whose team fell to 2-12 all-time vs. Duke. '€œWe've got to get ourselves some wins before we can start entertaining anything like that. '€œThat'€™s the bigger picture, and we've got to be focused on the smaller picture, which is Wake Forest in our next game.'€ Here are three things worth further examination from Saturday'€™s game: THE FINAL PLAY After John Scheyer (21 points) nailed two free throws to give the Blue Devils a 66-63 lead with 12.1 seconds remaining, the Eagles inbounded the ball and decided to forgo their final timeout. Reggie Jackson brought the ball up and was forced right by a double team and had to throw a desperate pass back across to Trapani, whose off-balance 3-pointer was unsuccessful. The timeout was in the coach'€™s back pocket, but Skinner said he didn'€™t need the timeout because he felt comfortable in his team executing the final play. '€œWe had already called the play, so we already knew what we wanted,'€ Skinner said. '€œI didn'€™t want to give [the Blue Devils] a chance to set their defense and I didn'€™t want them to be able to make a substitution.'€ Jackson (11 points) had hit a deep trey on the Eagles'€™ previous possession, and it looked as if he wanted the ball in his hands when the game really counted. On several occasions, Jackson'€™s overdribbling seemed to get him into trouble, and that'€™s what it looked like happened on the final play of the game. Corey Raji, who came up with a number of big offensive rebounds and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final minute of play, said that he trusted Jackson could make the shot, but maybe the sophomore needed to work on his decision-making. '€œHe'€™s done it before, he'€™s made big shots,'€ said Raji, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, both team highs. '€œWhen teams double-team him, that'€™s when him being a point guard he has to look for the next guy to be open.'€ REBOUNDING WAS OFFENSIVE The Eagles are now 2-5 this season when they are out rebounded by their opponent, and in both contests this year vs. Duke the Blue Devils owned the advantage on the boards. Duke only topped the Eagles by four rebounds on Saturday, compared to a 40-27 advantage last time out, but there were stretches in the game when Duke grabbed some key offensive rebounds to extend possessions. '€œNeither team rebounded the ball particularly well on their backboard,'€ Skinner said. '€œWe didn'€™t rebound when we needed to get it, and we couldn'€™t get it.'€ Skinner utilized a smaller lineup with Trapani (6-foot-8), Raji (6-6) and Tyler Roche (6-7) manning the front line against a bigger, lengthier front court of Brian Zoubek (7-1), Kyle Singler (6-8) and the brother tandem of Miles and Mason Plumlee (both 6-10). Raji was able to gut out some key offensive boards to keep the Eagles in the game and Zoubek took notice. '€œIt's just their approach to it,'€ Zoubek said. '€œAll five of their guys crash the boards, and if all five of our guys aren't boxing out and aren't going toward the ball, there's a mismatch there.'€ Raji crashed the boards late, and with 56 seconds remaining he came very close to putting back an offensive rebound for a potential 3-point play. He settled for two free throws. '€œWe knew that they were a bigger team than us and we just had to go in and box out,'€ Raji said. '€œI felt we did a fairly good job. We kept ourselves in the game on offensive boards.'€ SANDERS D'S UP Sanders finally is starting to round into shape after an early season ankle injury. With 13 points in Saturday'€™s game, Sanders has scored in double figures in the last four games. But Saturday it was his defensive intensity that really stood out. '€œThe pain in my foot is slowly but surely going away, so that'€™s a big thing," he said. "It was more of that pain going away and getting into game shape.'€ He frustrated Singler into a 4-for-14 shooting night for only 12 points, and at one point seemed to throw Singler off his game by not letting him breathe. Sanders also came up with the defensive play of the night when he timed Nolan Smith'€™s fast-break layup attempt beautifully and swatted it away, sparking a BC fast break that ended with a Raji layup on the other end. '€œWhen [Smith] was ahead of the field he looked back a little bit so that gave me a little time to catch up,'€ Sander said. '€œWhen he jumped in the air he hesitated to go straight up strong, so that gave me a chance to block it.'€ This play probably wouldn'€™t have been possible for Sanders to make earlier in the season on the ankle, and after a few stretches of tough defense Skinner had to pull his junior guard because of apparent fatigue. '€œHe'€™s very capable of playing very good defense,'€ Skinner said. '€œI think that'€™s one of the frustrating things about this year with his injury is that he has not been able to exert himself.'€