Duke 83, Boston College 81
Duke narrowly escaped defeat tonight against Boston College squeaking out a 83-81 victory. Duke, the number two ranked team in the NCAA, managed to maintain what was once a 61-43 lead to remain undefeated at 8-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 20-1 in regular season play.
With 12 minutes left to play Boston College rallied with a 14-2 run that brought the game within six points. With 24 seconds left, BC guard Marquez Haynes intercepted an inbounds pass and followed with an assist for a layup to draw the Duke lead to one point. BC then fouled Duke’s J.J. Redick, who completed both free-throws to make it a three point contest.
The game came down to a last second coast-to-coast drive by freshman guard Tyrese Rice, who’s lay up fell short and failed to draw the foul from Duke’s Shelden Williams.
J.J. Redick, Duke’s all-star guard, put up 28 points going 8-18 from the field including 3-6 from the three-point line. Redick also compiled 9-10 at the free throw line, with three coming in the last few minutes of the game. Duke’s “Big Man” Sheldon Williams also contributed with 21 points, six rebounds, and seven blocked shots.
The game also featured determined performances by the members of the 14th ranked Boston College team. Junior forward Jared Dudley matched Redick with a season high 28 points with two three-pointers and four rebounds. Craig Smith, BC’s star forward, tallied eight rebounds but only managed to put up eight points before fouling out with three minutes left. In a post-game interview with ESPN, Smith rationalized, “That team was picked to be the national champions and you lose to them by two points. That says something.”
Sean Marshall, a junior guard, had the daunting task of marking and defending Redick throughout the night, but still managing to contribute 14 points. Marshall fed off the local Boston crowd noise at the Conte Forum, which practically willed BC to a last second win.
This could be a turning point in BC’s season, not for losing but for proving they can play against the elite teams. Coming off a four game win-streak, a two-point loss to Duke isn’t exactly the death knell for Boston College. In addition, BC may have finally shed its reputation for having apathetic fans with the scene tonight.
The BC campus buzzed with anticipation as hundreds of students waited outside the arena hours before the game. Once inside, the fans who had not worn their yellow “Superfan” shirts donned free “Solid Gold” fan shirts provided by BC’s sports marketing. It was just one of the many steps taken by BC to improve crowd involvement, including placing “cheering instructions” on the streets.
But all the yellow shirts and rabid fans couldn’t withhold from Duke something that has become its birthright this season; The W. The Duke team proved the brightest star in an arena that included Boston sports celebrities Larry Lucchino, Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick, Dick Vitale, NBC’s Tim Russert, and the beloved Doug Flutie. The Blue Devils continued their dominant season and notched another victory to go 20-1 onwards towards March, but BC’s near-win proved their road to the championship will be an arduous one.