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BC 58, KENT STATE 54

Flashes of brilliance give BC benchmark win

Another Saturday matinee. Another ho-hum overtime victory.

 

The Boston College men's basketball team, returning to the hardwood at Conte Forum after a week of exams, improved to 8-1 with a hard-fought 58-54 overtime victory over Kent State yesterday before a crowd of 4,272.

Sophomore power forward Craig Smith led the way with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 4 steals, while freshman Jared Dudley had 12 points, including a baseline 3-pointer with 3:39 left in OT that gave the Eagles a lead (52-51) they would never surrender. BC also got a huge lift from its bench, which scored 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting and had 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals to offset the combined 0-for-10 shooting of guards Louis Hinnant (0 for 6) and Sean Marshall (0 for 4).

"As I told the guys, it's a team effort," said BC coach Al Skinner. "This team has a lot of different guys with a lot of different talents. Obviously, some guys struggled today, but there were other guys to pick them up."

Freshman Devon Evertsen, a slender 6-foot-6-inch swingman from Phoenix who had scored a mere 8 points in 40 minutes of action in six previous games, gave the Eagles quality time off the pine with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting (including one very nice lefthanded runner on a backdoor slash), 2 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

"I just knew that I had confidence in my shot and my scoring capabilities," Evertsen said.

Junior guard Jermaine Watson (8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) gave BC some much-needed hustle off the bench while 7-foot, 263-pound junior center Nate Doornekamp (5 points, 3 on his first trey of the season in the first half) went mano-a-mano with Kent State center John Edwards, a 7-foot, 270-pound senior who had 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots before fouling out with 47 seconds left in OT.

"Those were big lifts," Skinner said. "I mean, today I thought our bench came in and really gave us a lift."

In winning for the second time in OT this season after posting a thrilling 76-75 triumph over the University of Massachusetts Dec. 6, the Eagles avenged an 86-83 OT loss to the Golden Flashes in the Rock-n-Roll Shootout at Gund Arena in Cleveland last Dec. 28.

It was a loss senior forward Uka Agbai remembered all too well for the trash talk he was subjected to by an unidentified Kent State player.

"I remember I was on the bench and some guy was coming up and saying, `You're the Big Least, the Big Least,' and all that kind of stuff," recalled Agbai (9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 2 steals). "I mean, I wasn't even playing. I was in a neck brace. And here he was talking trash at me. It was a good opportunity to get some revenge, get some payback on that one."

The Eagles were undaunted even when Kent State (5-2) tied it at the end of regulation, 49-49, on a trey by sophomore guard DeAndre Haynes (team-high 13 points).

"We recognized we made some mistakes," said Skinner, whose team hit 20 of 58 shots (including 3 of 7 in OT) and was badly outrebounded, 53-35. "But going into overtime our guys felt very comfortable and felt they were going to win."

Bryan Bedford gave Kent State a 51-49 lead with his rainbow jumper from the corner, but Dudley quickly answered with a trey. After Smith tallied on a baseline fade for a 54-51 lead, Agbai converted a 3-point play to make it 57-51. But Bedford drained one from the arc to halve BC's lead to 3, 57-54, with 34.9 seconds left.

"In overtime, they grabbed every rebound and grabbed every loose ball. And that's the kind of things we pride ourself in," said Kent State coach Jim Christian, whose team hit just 21 of 66 shots and missed 11 of its first 12 attempts in the second half while committing 20 turnovers that resulted in 16 points for BC.

Agbai was at a loss to explain why the Eagles were winning these kind of close, gut-check games in OT. "I don't know, it's a different team, a different makeup," he said. "As I said from the beginning, we were going to have a different hero every night. Last year we were relying on one person. It's a completely different team this year."

BC is a team with some depth. A mix of youth and experience. And a bench.

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