The Three-Pointer: BC holds on for big win over Clemson

January 26, 2010 - 7:00 pm

Welcome to the topsy-turvy ACC. Less than three weeks after a 22-point loss to Clemson in South Carolina, Boston College pulled off a 75-69 upset of the Tigers Tuesday at Conte Forum. BC improved to 12-9 overall and 3-4 in the ACC and kept within shouting distance of conference leader Maryland along the way. Thanks to a 25-5 first-half run, the Eagles dominated the start and withstood the comeback attempt by the Tigers for their best win of the season. Despite the best efforts of Clemson's Trevor Booker, who might have impressed Celtics general manager Danny Ainge (who was at the game) with 12 second-half points and a game-high 19, the Eagles kept their composure and picked up the victory. Reggie Jackson, who led BC with 18 points, made key free throws down the stretch, while Corey Raji had a thunderous alley-oop dunk in the first half and eight of his 14 points in the second period to help keep the Eagles out front. Clemson, ranked 17th last week in the AP poll before falling out, suffered its third straight ACC loss and fell to 15-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC Here are three things to take from a stirring BC win. SETTING THE TONE The aforementioned 25-5 run was the key in a dominant first half for coach Al Skinner'€™s team, arguably the Eagles' best period of the season. The Eagles headed into the break with a surprising 42-25 lead after shooting a blistering 60 percent from the field. '€œOne of our better halves, no question about it,'€ Skinner said. '€œThe combination of offense and defense, from that standpoint.'€ As impressive as the offensive showing was over the first 20 minutes, it was the BC defense that set the tone. The Eagles allowed just 25 points in the first half and kept Booker, a Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List member, largely in check, as he had just seven points in the opening 20 minutes. '€œI just think guys had a lot of energy,'€ Skinner said about his team'€™s first-half play. '€œWe were contesting shots after the first couple of minutes. '€¦ As time went on, our pressure on the perimeter started to improve; we didn'€™t make it as easy for them to make plays.'€ SOLVING THE TIGERS To say that the Eagles have had trouble with Clemson as of late would be an understatement. The Tigers had won four straight over BC heading into the game, including a dominant 78-56 decision on Jan. 9. But the Eagles turned things around with their aggressive play, and the difference between the two contests was like night and day. In the first game, the Eagles shot just 37 percent from the field and had trouble with the uptempo style and pressure that is characteristic of Clemson'€™s play '€” the Tigers had 20 points off of BC turnovers. But this time around, the Eagles had their best shooting day (56 percent) since the first game of the season vs. Dartmouth and were able to take care of the basketball better than they had down in South Carolina. '€œThe ball handling for us obviously was key,'€ Skinner said. '€œI thought when we played them down there we didn'€™t handle the ball particularly well. And last time we created turnovers that led to baskets. I don'€™t think they had very many runouts today off turnovers, so that was important.'€ The improvement in taking care of the basketball was helped by playing Jackson (who tied his season-high with seven assists) and Biko Paris together in the backcourt. This was most evident at the end of the game, when BC kept the lead despite Clemson getting as close as four points. '€œThe most important thing was that guys kept their heads, meaning that they were going to make it at sometime a scramble type of game and we had to keep our heads up and make plays out of that,'€ Skinner added. '€œFor the most part, we did, and that'€™s the thing that I was most pleased about, that guys didn'€™t panic with the basketball.'€ HOLDING 'CORT' The BC bench was outstanding once again, outscoring the Tigers bench by a 35-20 margin. And just like Dallas Elmore seemingly appeared out of the blue to provide a punch vs. Virginia Tech on Saturday, Cortney Dunn came out of nowhere to make key plays for his team against Clemson. Dunn'€™s six-point, five-rebound night was by far his best statistical game of the season. Dunn also came through with the biggest play of the game for BC, getting a putback on a missed Joe Trapani 3-pointer with just 1:46 remaining to restore the BC lead to eight. It was the last field goal of the contest for BC, as Clemson played the foul game to try to make up for the deficit in the final minutes. '€œHe'€™s made an impact for us over the last few games defensively, but today he came up with some big rebounds,'€ Skinner said. '€œHe has been giving us that over the last couple games,'€ Skinner added. '€œHe is as good a defender as we have and he made a couple of hustle plays, which is great.'€