Boston College, Gonzaga avoid upsets
Appeal Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY – Pacific’s run of consecutive first-round upsets in the NCAA Tournament ended with a double-overtime loss to Boston College Thursday afternoon.
The fourth-seeded Boston College Eagles overcame a six-point lead in the first overtime period, and then outscored No. 13 Pacific 14-2 in the second extra period en route to an 88-76 victory at the Jon M. Hunstman Center.
Pacific had beaten Providence and Pitt in its last two NCAA first-round game.
Boston College (27-7), which hasn’t reached a regional since 1994, faces upstart Montana in a second-round game on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. Pacific ended the season with a 24-8 mark.
The score was tied at 65 at the end of regulation, and at 74 at the end of the first overtime.
Pacific led 71-65 in the first overtime on back-to-back 3-pointers by Mike Webb (12 points). BC closed to 71-69 on a free throw by Craig Smith (25 points) and a 3-pointer by Louis Hinnant with 2:06 left. Johnny Gray hit a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 74-69. A 3-pointer by Jared Dudley (20 points) and two free throws by Smith with 4.3 left tied the game.
Two buckets by Sean Williams and a 3-pointer by Tyrese Rice (11 points) gave the Eagles an 81-74, and the Tigers never recovered.
“I can’t hardly remember a game when we were up six and didn’t win the game,” Pacific coach Bob Thomason said. “That’s disappointing. We didn’t score (in the second overtime). I’m not real fired up about shooting 3s. I thought we had some good looks, but I thought one of the looks wasn’t very good.
“We needed to get it inside, but Boston College is big and strong, and we did run out of gas. We were playing the same guys most of the game and they’re strength wears on you.”
Smith said he and his teammates never panicked during the end of regulation or in either of the overtime periods.
“We kept our composure,” he said. “Obviously they made a run. We knew that we just had to keep our composure and that we were going to make our run and get ourselves back in the game.”
“People look forward to having the underdog come up and win,” BC point guard Louis Hinnant said. “Fortunately for us, we didn’t allow that to happen. We put ourselves in a real bad situation, but the guys kept their composure through the fans and the hype in the building.”
Hinnant was referring to the 13-point lead that Boston College blew over the final 9 minutes 45 seconds of regulation.
Pacific, led by Gray and Christian Maraker (30 points), went on a 17-6 run to pull to 59-57 with 4:26 left. Gray had two buckets, including a pull-up 3-pointer, Maraker contributed five points, including a three-point play and Anthony Esparza bombed in a 3-pointer.
A slam dunk by Smith made it 61-57, but Dudley fouled Maraker on a 3-point attempt, and the Tigers’ star made all three foul shots to make it 61-60 with 45.7 left in regulation. Leading 63-62, Rice knocked down his seventh and eight free throws of the game for a 65-62 lead. Maraker drained a 3-pointer from the right side with 11 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
“The only time it was a negative for us was when they (Maraker) made the 3-pointer at the end of regulation,” BC coach Al Skinner said. “We didn’t play defense the way we wanted to. Pacific ran what they wanted to run. I thought we had our defense prepared, but we didn’t execute properly. Other than that, it was all positive. The kids made the shots and made the plays.”
Despite the setback, Thomason was proud of his squad.
“I thought this was the first game all year that I thought we deserved to win,” Thomason said. “I thought we did a great job. I think we brought our toughness to the table, and we just had a few things slip through our fingers.”
GONZAGA 79, XAVIER 75
The heavily favored Zags were on the ropes, and as usual, it was Adam Morrison that rescued them.
Morrison scored 20 of his game-high 35 points in the second half to lead the third-seeded Zags to a narrow win over 14th-seeded Xavier.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few admitted that nothing surprises him about Morrison, who went 11-for-21 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the foul line.
“No. I mean he could go up to Park City and do back slips off one of those snowboard deals, and it probably would not shock me,” Few said. “That’s just Adam, and Adam makes those shots. He does that all the time, and he’ll continue to make them for years to come. He’s a great shot-maker.”
Gonzaga trailed 59-51 with 9:17 left, and that’s when Morrison and Co. heated up.
Morrison hit a 3-pointer to make it 59-54, and after Stanley Burrell hit two free throws to give Xavier a 61-54 advantage, Erroll Knight made a layup and 3-pointer to close the gap to 61-59. Four free throws by Justin Cage stretched Xavier’s lead back up to six, 65-59.
J.P. Batista (18 points) sank two free to trim the lead to 65-61, but Josh Duncan (11 points) made a free throw to make it 66-61. Morrison drained a jump shot, but Johnny Wolf drained a 3-pointer to give Xavier a 69-63 lead.
Baskets by Batista and Morrison trimmed it to 69-67 with 3:31 left. Duncan scored from the paint for a 71-67 edge. A bucket by Batista and a trey by Morrison gave the Zags the lead for good, 72-71, with 1:58 left.
Burrell led Xavier with 22 points and Cage added 16.
INDIANA 87, SDSU 83
The Hoosiers have kept beleaguered and embattled head coach Mike Davis on the sidelines for at least one more game.
“It didn’t cross my mind about this being my last game,” Davis said. “All I was thinking about was making sure my guys fought to the end. I want it so bad for these guys and the Indiana basketball program just to play hard and go out on top.
“The last three weeks has really helped this basketball team win a game like this. We’ve been in a situation the last three weeks where if we lose we are probably out of the tournament. That situation has helped us. We showed a lot of character.”
Indiana (19-11) trailed 83-80 with 52 seconds left, but scored the last seven points of the game to steal one from the Aztecs (24-9). The win snapped the Aztecs’ six-game winning streak.
Earl Calloway (18 points) started the game-ending surge with a layup, and following a steal by Marshall Strickland, Robert Vaden (18 points) drained a 3-pointer to give Indiana an 85-83 lead with 5 seconds left. Mohamed Abukar turned the ball over, and after being fouled by John Sharper, Roderick Wilmont drained two free throws with 3 seconds left to make it a four-point game.
Abukar led the Aztecs with 24 points and Brandon Heath followed with 15.