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DUKE 83, BC 81


Eagles Duke barely escapes upset at hands of BC

BC players Sean Marshall (right), Craig Smith (center), and John Oates can’t bear to watch as Josh McRoberts (left) sinks two key foul shots with 39 seconds left.
BC players Sean Marshall (right), Craig Smith (center), and John Oates can’t bear to watch as Josh McRoberts (left) sinks two key foul shots with 39 seconds left. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Sure, Duke All-American J.J. Redick led the second-ranked Blue Devils with 28 points on 8-for-18 shooting. And sure, Shelden Williams chipped in 21 points, hitting 13 of 16 from the foul line, to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.

But, as they trudged off the court at Conte Forum following last night's 83-81 loss to Duke, it was difficult for the Boston College Eagles not to feel they had just been beaten by a bad whistle instead of the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The No. 15 Eagles (16-5, 4-4) had their five-game winning streak snapped after they trailed by 10 at the half (44-34), watched Duke increase its lead to a seemingly insurmountable 18 points (61-43), and battled back to within 1 (79-78), when Jared Dudley (team-high 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting) scored a heavily contested lane penetration against Williams with 17 seconds left.

Dudley, however, did not get the call. It was that kind of night for the Eagles.

To complicate matters, BC was forced to play the final 4:32 without two starters, senior forward Craig Smith (8 points, 8 rebounds) and junior forward Sean Marshall (14 points), both of whom had fouled out.

''I'm happy about the way we played, and it's unfortunate that we were put in that position we were in," said Eagles coach Al Skinner, who was frustrated over Duke's lopsided advantage at the line, where the Blue Devils hit 29 of 37 attempts compared with 10 of 13 for BC. ''To have two of your starters foul out on offensive fouls when at least I thought they were pretty stationary, considering the discrepancy in the fouls, it's just unfortunate that we were put at such a disadvantage.

''You can call whatever you want against us, but it's got to be the same on both ends. When there's contact going to the basket, they call fouls, that's fine. But when my guys go to the basket and there's contact, it should be a foul. It's just that simple.

''When that doesn't occur, then obviously there's a problem there."

Even more problematic for Skinner was the fact Smith, a bruising, 6-foot-7-inch, 250-pounder, played 35 minutes and didn't once go to the line, while Williams played 36 minutes and went to the line 16 times, making as many as the Eagles attempted overall.

''I'm not the guy making the decision, all I'm doing is observing," Skinner said. ''If one group is shooting that many free throws and to have one player shoot almost as many as your team . . . that's tough."

Before a sellout crowd of 8,606, the Eagles dug a hole for themselves by committing 11 first-half turnovers that led to 14 points.

The Blue Devils extended their halftime lead by heating up from the 3-point arc in the second half. Redick sparked a 9-0 rally with a trey, and Sean Dockery followed with a 3-pointer, before Redick added a stop-and-pop trifecta to give the Blue Devils a commanding 55-38 lead with 17:34 to go.

''It was a little bit of fool's gold the way we got the lead," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team improved to 20-1 overall and remained unbeaten atop the ACC, with an 8-0 mark. ''That was not the way the game was going to be played."

Marshall converted a strong baseline layup (against the mismatched Greg Paulus) and followed with a rainbow trey that cut Duke's lead to 12, 55-43. But the Eagles went on a scoring drought of 3:42 that enabled the Blue Devils to stretch their lead to 18, 61-43, with 12:46 to go.

''It's a common story we've been having all year," Williams said. ''We get kind of complacent when we have a lead, and the other team sees that and then they get confident and we don't match their intensity. Then it becomes a dogfight after that."

The Eagles went on a 14-2 run to pull within 63-57, when BC converted a Paulus turnover into a Marshall transition basket with 8:06 left.

The crowd was on its feet when Louis Hinnant hit an open trey from the corner that pulled BC within 10, 63-53. A pair of foul shots by Dudley and Marshall's fast-break basket cut it 6 and had the Devils staggering back to their bench for a timeout.

When play resumed, BC's momentum was stopped cold when Smith picked up his fourth personal, but Dudley (18 second-half points) put the team on his back when Marshall fouled out with 4:34 to go. Smith followed suit when Paulus drove hard to the basket and induced him to foul out with 2:58 left.

''It's kind of tough to get a charge call and foul somebody out of the game on their home court," Marshall said. ''I mean, we get those calls on the road, but at home, the fouls me and Craig got on charge calls, that's tough."

Said Smith, ''I thought I did a good job of establishing position [against Paulus]. I just didn't get the call."

The Eagles continued to fight back, pulling within 3 five times over the next two minutes, Marquez Haynes tapping in a huge putback to cut Duke's lead to 79-76 with 25.7 seconds left.

Duke turned it over on Lee Melchionni's ensuing inbounds pass to Redick, with Haynes giving BC a chance to tie it. The Eagles went to Dudley, who drove the lane against Williams and contorted his body for a huge layup that made it 79-78 with 15.9 seconds left.

Rice put Redick on the line for a pair of foul shots that extended Duke's lead to 81-78 with 14.5 seconds remaining, then failed to draw a foul on his ensuing lane penetration with 7.4 seconds left, sending Williams to the line for a pair of foul shots that enabled Duke to clinch it.

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