Eagles Win in a Nail-Biter

November 28, 2009 - 8:47 pm

At halftime, with the Boston College basketball team's lead sitting at 11, it appeared as if the Eagles had figured out the Providence press and were going to roll to an easy win. Oh, how quickly things can change. With just under five minutes remaining, BC'€™s lead had slimmed all the way down to one, the Friars mounting a furious charge. After Joe Trapani hit one of his two free throws, Providence took the lead on a 3-pointer by Sharaud Curry, who came out sizzling in the second half. After trading baskets and turnovers for the final four minutes, BC was able to take a lead on a three-point play by Josh Southern (11 points). Two more Biko Paris free throws after a BC steal put the Eagles up by three, which proved just enough when Curry came up just short on a game-tying attempt from beyond the arc. Trapani then hit his final two free throws to bring home the win for the Eagles, 82-77. It was a game that at one point looked like a runaway win. But after a furious comeback by the Friars, the Eagles were once again tested by a late run from an opponent that refused to go away. Unlike its previous loss at the hands of Northern Iowa, Boston College managed to hold on and come out on the winning end. '€œWe'€™re very fortunate to win,'€ BC coach Al Skinner said. '€œIt shows a certain amount of mental toughness, and it was nice to see, because we had enough excuses not to win the basketball game.'€ Here are three things we learned from the escape act: TRAPANI IS A TOUGH HOMBRE After being bedridden for the past three days, the 6-foot-8 junior surprised even his coach Saturday night, coming out and dropping 19 points in the BC victory. Though the forward struggled at times, it was his efforts in the final minutes that proved key in what turned out to be a very close win. '€œHe was in bed all day,'€ Skinner said of Trapani, who came down with three rebounds and scored five points in the last five minutes of the game. '€œFor him to come out and give an effort like that, just shows a lot of toughness on his part.'€ Skinner went on to explain that even he wasn'€™t sure Trapani would be able to total 31 minutes on the night with his illness. But Trapani'€™s performance, especially during the second half of a game that turned into a nail-biter, earned notice as evidence of a player who will do what is necessary to contribute in key moments. Even after being in bed for the past three days, Trapani was still able to turn it on when the Eagles needed it the most. BC REFUSED TO BE PRESSED Every now and then, Providence'€™s full-court press looked as if it was giving the Eagles some issues. But that wasn'€™t very often. For the better part of the game, the Eagles were able to exploit the Friars' constant ball pressure and turn it into easy baskets in the paint for both Southern and Trapani. After Providence totaled a season-high 19 steals in a victory over Vermont last week, it was obvious the Friars would be rushing hard at the BC ball handlers. But the Eagles only turned the ball over a total of 10 times during the game, proving that their discipline and court vision came through under duress. '€œ[The key to beating the press was] just not letting them rush us, and slowing down to our pace'€ said junior forward Corey Raji, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles. '€œOnce we were down, we had to fight back and stay together. I felt we handled their pressure very well.'€ Even though the Friars made a comeback in the second half, it'€™s important to note that it wasn'€™t because of the full-court pressure. Instead, it was simply a matter of a team that launches about 30 treys a game getting hot at some point. Despite the fact that the game was close in the end, Boston College can take consolation in the fact that it remained disciplined with the press throughout, exploiting the weakness that such a defense reveals under the opposing basket. REGGIE JACKSON CAN STIR THE DRINK There are times during the game when BC guard Reggie Jackson elevates his play. But then, there are also times where he gets caught up in the emotions of the game, and his play seems to suffer. For most of Saturday night'€™s game, Jackson handled himself very well, dominating the offensive boards as well as the defensive end. After Raji'€™s hot start (12 points, 9 boards in the first 10 minutes), it was Jackson who turned out to be the Eagles' main source of offense throughout the night, reeling in 12 rebounds and scoring a team-leading 20 points. But his defense may have been even more important than his offensive output. For most of the night, Jackson was guarding Marshon Brooks, who was shut down for the better part of the game (3 points, 2 fouls at halftime). Brooks heated up towards the end of the game, ending with 16 points, though it was still a far cry from the 24 that he posted in Providence'€™s win over UVM last week '€” a testament to Jackson'€™s defensive abilities. '€œSince we got back from the Virgin Islands, it'€™s been defense,'€ Jackson said. '€œScouting, watching film, figuring out how we'€™re going to defend teams this year.'€ Nobody has ever questioned Jackson'€™s raw ability, and the Eagles will be looking for similar high-output efforts throughout the season from him. His development bears monitoring, because as Skinner said himself before the season even started, the sophomore has a lot to learn. Even so, he appears to be evolving into a key player on both sides of the ball for Boston College.