Eagles edge Miami in ACC opener

December 06, 2009 - 4:11 pm

The Boston College basketball team is developing a pattern. Play a strong first half; come out of it with a lead. Extend said lead to double digits. Lose lead. Secure win in final seconds of game. Sure, it makes for a great game, but how long can BC make the formula work to its advantage? For the third straight game, BC blew a big lead '€” this time 16 points with 12 minutes remaining '€” but regrouped in time to pull out the win, 61-60 over Miami in the ACC opener for both teams Sunday at Conte Forum. With 2:26 left in the game, Miami guard Malcolm Grant (18 points) hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 57, capping an 8-0 run by the Hurricanes. It looked as if BC had run out of gas and Miami was just getting started. '€œI think we were relying too much on getting calls,'€ BC coach Al Skinner said. If that was the case, the Eagles decided to rely on themselves to win. Sophomore guard Reggie Jackson (18 points, 9 rebounds) grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Joe Trapani and laid it in for a two-point lead with 1:48 left. After Miami missed a 3-pointer, BC missed one as well, but it went out of bounds off a Miami player who was under pressure from BC forward Corey Raji (17 points 9 rebounds). BC could not take advantage, as Jackson was called for a questionable charging call on a spectacular dunk. Miami set up a play to get Grant a look at a potential game-winning shot, but he missed a trey in the face of sound defense by the Eagles. Jackson netted the rebound and was fouled with 2.3 seconds on the clock. Jackson drained both free throws, making Grant'€™s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from halfcourt a moot point as BC walked away with a 61-60 win. The win makes BC 6-2 on the season and drops a previously undefeated Miami team to 8-1. '€œIf they go undefeated the rest of the way then there'€™s pride in defeating them,'€ joked Skinner. Here are three things we learned in the win: REBOUNDING WINS GAMES From the tip-off, BC controlled the boards on both sides of the court. BC'€™s bigs crowded the paint to give their team extra possessions and limit Miami'€™s. Forward Corey Raji had a game-high seven offensive rebounds, three more than the entire Miami team in that category. Raji and Jackson both secured nine rebounds overall, including Jackson'€™s crucial offensive rebound and go-ahead basket with 1:48 left. '€œ[Raji] drew about three guys, Josh [Southern] drew some attention. ... I figured I should take the opportunity," Jackson said. "I got to just walk under the basket and grab the rebound. After that it was easy. Just put it on the glass and let the rest happen." Overall, BC out-rebounded Miami 46-21. '€œIn five years, we'€™ve never gotten beaten like this on the boards,'€  Miami coach Frank Haith said. For BC, it was all a part of the game plan. '€œOur goal was to try to be strong on the boards, box out,'€ Raji said. '€œI felt we did a good job on that.'€ BALL MOVEMENT WORKS During the first half, Miami played a zone defense that gave BC fits. The Eagles appeared to be holding on to the ball instead of working it around and through the zone '€” until the final two minutes of the half. In the second half, BC came out whipping the ball around the court, finding each other for layups and open shots. The Eagles worked Miami'€™s zone so well that Miami was forced to play man-to-man and press in the backcourt to slow down the BC offense. '€œ[In the first half] we looked hesitant. Guys were holding on to the ball,'€ Skinner said. '€œIn the second half we moved the ball much better.'€ REGGIE JACKSON IS BECOMING A FINISHER For a stretch late in the second half, it seemed as if BC didn'€™t have an answer for Miami guard Malcolm Grant. Grant scored all eight points (including two treys) on an 8-0 run that tied the game with 2:26 left. However, Jackson was not to be outdone on his home court. His putback layup with 1:48 on the clock gave BC the lead. He electrified the crowd with a one-handed dunk over Miami center Reggie Johnson. He was called for a charge, but the dunk fired up the crowd at a crucial time. '€œLate in the game, [Jackson] has always been aggressive,'€ Skinner said. Jackson also proved clutch, hitting two free throws with two seconds left to give BC a four-point lead and put the game away. Jackson may be young, but it's quite clear that he'€™s the go-to guy on the team this season.