Jackson, Eagles able to finish the job
It wasn’t how the Boston College offense started the game last night, but how it finished.
The Eagles nearly doubled their first-half output, scoring 47 points in the final 20 minutes to overcome a slim yet late deficit and defeat North Carolina State, 75-66, at Conte Forum.
Reggie Jackson put on an efficiency clinic, needing just 13 shots to net a season-high 29 points, handing out 6 assists, and nabbing 5 rebounds. Joe Trapani added 9 points and led the Eagles with 12 boards.
“I felt great, my teammates worked hard,’’ said Jackson. “I’m pretty impressed with our performance tonight.’’
Both teams shot 44 percent from the field, but the Eagles connected on 39 percent of their threes, including 5 of 9 in the second half.
BC (13-4, 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) led most of the game, but had difficulty finding breathing room in the second half, even after Jackson’s 5-0 run produced an 8-point lead for an offense that had struggled.
The junior guard’s move to get free for a two-handed slam created some excitement in the crowd, and his pull-up three on the ensuing possession put BC ahead, 50-42, with 10:49 remaining.
Ryan Harrow of the Wolfpack (11-5, 1-1) answered with consecutive layups and scored 8 of his team’s next 10 points, and Scott Wood’s trey gave N.C. State a 55-53 advantage. It was the visitors’ first lead since Wood’s game-opening dunk.
The Eagles’ Biko Paris (12 points) drilled one from beyond the arc to knot the score at 60 and Jackson’s drive-and-kick to an open Corey Raji (14 points, eight rebounds) put BC back on top, 63-60.
After an N.C. State miss, Paris swished another deep 3-pointer to force a Wolfpack timeout that left Jackson pumping his first at halfcourt and the crowd in a frenzy.
C.J. Leslie hit a pair of treys in the final two minutes to keep the Wolfpack on life-support, but Jackson and Josh Southern made free throws down the stretch to seal it.
“The reason I thought it was a great win for us is because it was a grind,’’ said BC coach Steve Donahue. “I think it speaks volumes to the guys in the locker room.’’
The Eagles built an early double-digit lead, 22-11, thanks to stifling defense and a quartet of 3-pointers.
The cushion ended up being critical as BC followed up back-to-back triples by Jackson and Paris and an easy layup by Gabe Moton by going 3:14 without scoring a point.
Raji finally broke the drought with a layup, but it was the only 2 points BC scored in an uninspired eight-minute stretch in which the Wolfpack went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to 24-20.
BC struggled to find an offensive rhythm, misfiring on 14 straight jumpers following a Paris trey, making his jumper, not even eight minutes into the game, their last to fall in the half.
“I thought we had opportunities where we just missed easy ones, where we really could have stretched the game,’’ said Donahue. “Then we just settled in, we settled for one pass and a shot. I mentioned at halftime that we have to get the ball moving.’’
The Eagles were lucky to escape the half with a lead as Richard Howell’s desperation heave from past halfcourt clanged off the front of the rim, leaving the Eagles faithful sighing a collective breath of relief with BC leading, 28-26.
N.C. State was able to tie it on two occasions after the intermission, but Jackson continued to carry the offense and BC never fell behind.
His 3-point play helped BC pull away from the first deadlock, and his no-look assist on Raji’s corner three helped create distance after the second.