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The Bryant men’s basketball team watched a long, last-second 3-point attempt by Boston College forward Ryan Anderson bounce off the backboard, then the front of the rim, before it harmlessly fell to the court, allowing the Bulldogs to capture the biggest win in team history, 56-54, Sunday at Conte Forum.
Since becoming a Division 1 program five years ago, the Bulldogs have struggled, including four straight losses to BC, but Sunday, behind 17 second-half points from Dyami Starks, they finally got a signature win.
“You think of all the losing we’ve gone through year after year, to finally start turning it around, it’s kind of emotional,” said Bryant coach Tim O’Shea, who played for the Eagles in the early ’80s. “Five years ago the biggest game on Bryant’s schedule was Bentley. Now five years later we beat Boston College.”
It was not an offensive showcase as both teams struggled to hit shots, but Starks took over in the second half for Bryant, going on a run of 7 unanswered points that allowed his team to pull within 46-45 with less than eight minutes to play.
After trailing, 26-24, at halftime, the Eagles (2-4) had an 8-point lead (44-36) with 9:24 to play behind the efforts of Olivier Hanlan, who poured in 13 points over the final 20 minutes, but they could muster only 10 points the rest of the way.
“I’m extremely disappointed in so many different ways how we played,” said BC coach Steve Donahue. “Bryant deserved to win the game. They played harder, played smarter than us on both sides of the ball.”
Starks, who was scoreless in the first half, dropped a 3-pointer from the right wing with 5:09 left in the game to give the lead back to Bryant (3-2), 51-49, and the Bulldogs held on in the frantic final seconds.
“He struggled in the first half, but it doesn’t surprise me at all what he did in the second half,” said O’Shea of Starks. “Now if you told me we were going to shoot 33 percent and Dyami was not going to hit a shot in the first half, I’d have said we’re probably going to lose by 15-18 points.”
Coming off a timeout with eight seconds left, Hanlan took an inbounds pass, but was called for an offensive foul at the top of the arc as he looked to penetrate.
On the ensuing inbounds, Bryant’s Corey Maynard was called for a violation after moving on the sideline before putting the ball into play, which ultimately led to the Eagles’ final shot — and miss — by Anderson.
“I said to myself, ‘Oh this can’t be happening,’ ” said O’Shea after his team gave BC one last chance. “I didn’t think the basketball gods could be that cruel.”
The Eagles grabbed their first lead with 1:20 remaining in the first half on back-to-back 3-pointers by Lonnie Jackson and Joe Rahon, but it was short-lived after Frankie Dobbs answered with a three to put the Bulldogs back on top before the half.
BC finished 4 for 18 from behind the arc, turned the ball over 15 times, and was unable to string two wins together for the first time this season.
“We did not play very smart basketball and that is ultimately my fault,” said Donahue. “We did not play like we were coached very well. I didn’t like any execution part of the game at all. We missed a lot of open shots early and we got tight.”
The Eagles will head to University Park to face Penn State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Wednesday.
Bryant, which opened its season with a 97-54 loss to top-ranked Indiana, has now won three straight games.