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Duke 66, BC 63

From BC’s view, time just ran out

Comeback puts scare into Duke

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 7, 2010

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He had just hit Duke forward Ryan Kelly with a right-to-left crossover at the top of the key and drained a 3-pointer that pulled Boston College within 1 point with 16 seconds left, and as he pounded his chest and roared at the Conte Forum crowd while his teammates headed toward the bench to huddle, Reggie Jackson had the look of a man who thought he could beat the 10th-ranked Blue Devils by himself yesterday.

After two free throws by Jon Scheyer, BC was in position to send the game into overtime, and the ball was put in the hands of the sophomore guard.

Jackson dribbled down the left side of the court and tugged his jersey the way guard Tyrese Rice did a year ago, signaling for Joe Trapani to set a screen and then pop to the wing.

Rice had knocked down the same shot time and time again. Jackson saw this as his turn. He dribbled to the opposite wing, but Duke sent two defenders at him. Jackson was trapped with no shot and no idea how much time was left because the shot clocks above the rim weren’t working and the substitute one was along the baseline in the opposite corner.

With time ticking down, he went to the only option he had, hoisting a pass to Trapani on the other side, but Trapani only had enough time to drive right and rush a straightaway 3-pointer that fell short, sealing Duke’s 66-63 win.

“He likes to take the big shot, he wants to be the hero,’’ said teammate Corey Raji of Jackson, who gave the Eagles 11 points off the bench. “Reggie was saying with that clock on the floor, he couldn’t see how much time was left. I’m not blaming him for holding the ball, because as he indicated as he was coming off the floor he said, ‘Coach, I just couldn’t see how much time was on the clock.’

“There’s no way that he could have measured how much time was left; it was a guess. As he said when he came off the screen, he looked up - it’s just instinctive - but no shot clock and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Aw, shucks! What am I going to do?’ ’’

With Duke (19-4, 7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) struggling from long range (it missed its first six 3-point attempts) and at the free throw line (2 of 6 in the first half) the Eagles were able to stay close early in front of the 8,606 on hand.

The lead changed hands eight times in the first half. But over the final six minutes of the half, BC missed layups, turned the ball over, and gave up rebounds while Nolan Smith and Scheyer shredded the defense, sending the Eagles into halftime in a 35-25 hole.

The rebounding battle wasn’t necessarily lopsided (final tally: Duke, 31-27), but, Skinner said, “When we needed to get it we couldn’t get it.’’

He pointed to one possession where Smith missed a 3-pointer, Mason Plumlee got the offensive rebound, missed a dunk attempt, and got his own rebound, Smith missed another three, Brian Zoubek got the board, and when everything settled, Kyle Singler was at the line knocking down a pair of free throws that gave Duke a 58-48 lead.

Still, the Eagles (12-11, 3-6) were able to recover.

Tyler Roche was a featured player in a 6-0 spurt that pulled BC within 58-54. First, he fed Trapani for a layup, then converted one of his own with 3:01 left. On the other end, Roche rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Singler, got fouled, and canned both free throws.

“We were down but the guys continued to fight back,’’ Skinner said.

Raji went 5 for 6 at the line, draining four in the final minute, including a pair that made it 62-60 and set the stage for Jackson.

“The ball’s in his hands,’’ said Raji, who scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the second half. “Only he can determine who gets the ball. If he feels he’s open he’s going to take the shot. He’s done it before. He’s hit big shots . . . But when teams are double-teaming him, that’s when him, being a point guard, he has to look for the next guy to be open. But we’re very confident, we feel like he can hit that shot.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.