|Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin splits the defense of Corey Raji (left) and Danny Rubin in the second half. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)|
Soar spot for Eagles
Raji gives them lift late in game
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Corey Raji’s timing was right for the Boston College men’s basketball team.
Raji, recovered from a concussion, yesterday played for the first time since Dec. 1, scoring the final 6 points as the Eagles took a 79-75 victory over Maryland in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
Raji tied the game at 75 with a drive, then converted a 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining and a foul shot with 14 seconds to play.
“All thanks go out to my teammates, because you could see I wasn’t having a good night shooting,’’ said Raji, who finished 4 for 11. “But they still had confidence in me to take the shot and I knocked it down. I was out for a week, couldn’t do anything, so I was off my game. But I got to the gym and worked on my shots.’’
Biko Paris (career-high 22 points) was 6 for 10 from the 3-point line as the Eagles shot 44.8 percent (13 for 29) on threes.
Raji was 1 for 5 on treys before converting his final attempt to break the tie. He totaled twice as many 3-point attempts in this game as all last season (0 for 3).
“That’s what we work on in practice, shooting threes, just in case times like this would ever come,’’ Raji said. “Last year we didn’t really do that. Select people were able to shoot threes. But this year, Coach [Steve Donahue] has confidence in a lot of us to shoot the three. And we did a pretty good job [yesterday].’’
BC (8-2) struggled against the Maryland press in the opening half. Raji scored in transition for a 16-11 lead with 12:01 remaining. Then the Terps (7-4) produced several turnovers and got Josh Southern to commit his second foul. Southern, making his second start of the season, had been providing BC’s inside strength against Jordan Williams (27 points, 13 rebounds).
Maryland’s final 7 points of the half were scored on follows, including a fourth-chance 3-point play by Williams with 47 seconds to go.
But drives by the Eagles’ Reggie Jackson produced a 3-point play and another basket to pull BC within 41-39 at the break.
Maryland appeared on the verge of taking command several times in the second half. Adrian Bowie provided a 75-72 lead with 2:39 to play. But Cliff Tucker missed two foul shots and Terrell Stoglin one as BC scored 7 straight points. Joe Trapani hit a free throw out of a timeout to pull BC within 75-73, then Raji’s layup tied the score with 1:27 remaining.
Raji’s trey off a Jackson setup out of a timeout gave BC the lead. After a Maryland timeout, Trapani’s steal set up Paris for a one-and-one miss with 28 seconds left. Trapani then contested a Stoglin 3-point attempt, Raji rebounding, getting fouled, and converting the free throw.
“They had one offensive rebound in the first 13 minutes and nine the last seven minutes [of the first half],’’ Donahue said about Maryland. “Once we were able to establish our core guys out there, we rebounded better. They’re very difficult to keep off the boards. We took Josh out and went with [Trapani] and Corey, a little smaller, but I thought Joe was a little better matchup on Williams. I think he bothered him with his quickness, getting around him on that last [steal].’’
It was Donahue’s first ACC contest.
“This arena’s probably similar to the other ones — it’s loud, it’s just a great place to play,’’ he said. “I’m taking it all in because it’s just a great experience. I like the fact we played our first one on the road — a little less pressure to win, just go out and play and don’t worry about mistakes. You’re on the road, so people don’t expect you to win.’’
Nor could many have expected the Eagles, who host Bryant Sunday, to be so effective from distance.
“The reason we’re shooting threes better is those guys work on their shot,’’ Donahue said. “There’s no magic formula. I encourage guys to shoot. I never say that was a bad shot, I just don’t want to put that in their heads. I don’t ever want them to think they shouldn’t shoot the ball.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.