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URI 67, BC 65

Eagles rally, but can’t overcome Rams

STEVE DONAHUE Foul trouble STEVE DONAHUE
Foul trouble
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / December 30, 2010

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KINGSTON, R.I. — Boston College was playing shorthanded and fighting foul trouble for most of the game in a 67-65 loss to Rhode Island last night. But the Eagles regained their composure and were shooting for a victory as Reggie Jackson’s 3-pointer hit the front rim at the buzzer.

BC (10-3) lost Biko Paris (right ankle) early in the game, then had to adjust without Josh Southern and Joe Trapani, who each had four fouls. And URI (9-4) capitalized with an aggressive full-court press and streaky 3-point shooting, extending its home unbeaten streak against nonconference opponents to 33 games over three years.

URI led by 2 points in the final minute, Delroy James missing a 3-pointer on the Rams’ final possession. BC then called a timeout with 11.7 seconds remaining, nearly lost possession, and called another timeout with 1.4 seconds on the clock, before Jackson’s shot from nearly 30 feet.

“Nikola [Malesevic] got his hand on the ball on my shot,’’ Jackson said. “You really couldn’t tell, but he veered it off a little. It definitely felt like one of the best shots I’ve ever taken in my life; coming out of my hand it felt good, but I heard him get a little piece of it. I was hoping it wasn’t enough, but it was just enough for them to come out with the win.’’

The Eagles led, 9-2, before Paris appeared to twist his ankle after grabbing a defensive rebound. Suddenly, the URI press became effective, BC finishing the half with 11 turnovers — two more than its average per game. Paris returned to action briefly, and afterward said he hoped to be ready for the Eagles’ visit to South Carolina Saturday.

After the Rams missed their first seven shots, they went on a 26-5 run, shooting 10 for 12 from the field. Marquis Jones’s 3-pointer gave URI a 33-18 advantage with 4:50 remaining in the half. But BC retaliated with three successive 3-pointers, followed by a Jackson drive, cutting the deficit to 4 with 2:40 to go in the half.

A Will Martell foul shot with four seconds remaining gave URI a 39-30 halftime lead. But Jackson started the second half with a 3-pointer and 3-point play in a 39-second span, sparking an 11-point BC run. Trapani’s 3-pointer gave BC a 41-39 lead 3:32 into the half. Jackson soon took a break, BC’s all-freshman backcourt keeping the Eagles in contention. Corey Raji’s 3-pointer tied the score, 51-51, with 10:29 remaining. But Trapani committed his fourth foul, and URI’s 10-3 run produced a 61-54 advantage on an Orion Outerbridge foul shot with 5:51 left.

“We persevered through that big run they had, took the lead right away in the second half, and it was back and forth in the second half,’’ said Trapani (18 points in just 16 minutes of playing time). “I got a couple cheap fouls and they were hitting shots, they were executing plays, we were, too. If we had a little more time.

“I think we did a lot of good things, we outrebounded them on the offensive glass. But we missed foul shots, which is uncharacteristic of us, we were unable to close them out when we got the lead.’’

Trapani sank successive 3-pointers to pull BC within 63-60 with 4:39 remaining. Outerbridge converted two dunks, but Raji countered with two foul shots and a 3-pointer to cut the BC deficit to 67-65 with 59 seconds left. James missed, and the Eagles called time out. Jackson’s pass intended for Southern under the basket was knocked away, Trapani recovering possession and calling a timeout with 1.4 on the clock. Paris returned to the lineup to take the inbounds pass, and URI called two timeouts. Then Jackson hit the rim.

“I thought we played with such great energy when we got down big,’’ BC coach Steve Donahue said. “We came back, we offensive rebounded — we actually crushed them on the boards, and for us to do that is a great sign. I thought we really went after the ball. For us to win, we’ve got to be great with the ball, we’ve got to hit foul shots. We missed three, including the front end, down the stretch. We just can’t afford to do that down the stretch against a good team. That’s something we’ve got to do well to win games.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.