PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)—The Boston College Eagles believe something special is happening this season, and it’s not luck, either.
Jared Dudley scored 21 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:20 left to give Boston College the lead, and the No. 8 Eagles remained undefeated with a 78-75 victory over Providence on Wednesday night.
Boston College (17-0, 6-0 Big East) is off to its best start in school history in the regular season and conference play.
“It’s just something about us,” said Craig Smith, who also scored 21 points. “We just have a feeling we can’t lose right now. We always go into each game feeling we should win.”
Boston College and No. 1 Illinois are the only undefeated teams left in Division I. No. 2 Duke lost for the first time Wednesday night, falling 75-66 to Maryland.
Donnie McGrath led Providence (9-9, 0-5) with 17 points, matching his season high, and made 5 3-pointers. Leading scorer Ryan Gomes was held to 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Providence has lost five straight.
A 3-pointer by McGrath gave the Friars a 75-71 lead with 3:19 left in the game. BC’s Jermaine Watson then hit a floater from the baseline to draw the Eagles within two. The teams traded turnovers before Dudley hit his 3-pointer from the left wing to put BC in front.
“He’s exploded this year,” Smith said of Dudley, who also led the Eagles with 12 rebounds and added six assists. “He should be a name people should be talking about. That shot shows how much poise he has, and he’s willing to take big shots.”
Providence’s Dwight Brewington missed a 3-pointer with less than a minute left, but Gomes grabbed the rebound. He whirled in the lane, but got caught in the air with two defenders on him and turned the ball over.
Watson made one free throw to give BC a 77-75 lead, but missed the second to give Providence a chance with 31 seconds left. DeSean White missed a jumper with 10 seconds remaining, and Dudley hit a free throw 2 seconds later to give Boston College a three-point lead.
White said he was looking for Gomes from the moment he touched the ball.
“By the time I looked down (in the lane), there was a double (team) on him, and I had to do something,” said White, who finished with eight points. “So, I shot. I make that nine out of ten times.”
After Dudley’s free throw, Boston College used a foul to take some time off the clock, and McGrath’s 3-pointer was off the mark as time expired.
“Our kids fought hard, but I thought BC did a better job in the last couple of minutes, taking better shots while our kids took some questionable shots,” Providence coach Tim Welsh said.
Providence led 41-38 at the break. A pair of 3-pointers by Gomes and a basket by Brewington, followed by a 3 from McGrath, gave the Friars their biggest lead of the game at 55-44 less than 4 minutes into the second half. But a three-point play by Smith and two baskets by Sean Marshall got Boston College within four less than 2 minutes later. Neither team led by more than four points in the final 12 minutes.
“We didn’t get in a panic or a frenzy,” Watson said. “We just executed. We didn’t get nervous. We knew we were going to come back.”