No. 5 Boston College 60, Seton Hall 52
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Boston College set a record it never will be able to break.
The fifth-ranked Eagles beat Seton Hall 60-52 on Saturday night to become the first team in Big East history to start a season 20-0. And they did it in their last season in the league.
“That’s pretty cool to go out with a bang,” junior forward Craig Smith said. “To be the first team ever in this last year, that’s something special.”
Jared Dudley had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Boston College (20-0, 9-0), which set the school record for a winning streak and remained with top-ranked Illinois as the only unbeatens in Division I. The Illini (22-0) play Indiana on Sunday.
Just as in a few of the Eagles’ wins this season, the victory over Seton Hall (10-9, 2-6) wasn’t high on style points. But they won despite playing at the pace Seton Hall wanted and by scoring a season-low point total on a night they shot well below their average.
“I’d give it a 6. It was kind of ugly,” Dudley said when asked to grade the win on a scale of 1 to 10. “But we passed the test and move on.”
Smith had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles, who came into the game averaging 74.2 points on 46.6 percent shooting, while Sean Marshall added 12 points, all in the first half.
John Allen had 12 points for the Pirates, who came in averaging a Big East-low 64.5 points per game on a league-worst 40.6 percent shooting.
Dudley’s 3-pointer with 2:32 left gave Boston College a 52-47 lead. Andrew Sweet’s three-point play got Seton Hall within two with 2:05 left, but the Pirates scored on only one of their final five possessions and the Eagles closed with an 8-2 run.
“This was the same type scenario as some of the early wins, but Seton Hall was better than those teams,” Eagles coach Al Skinner said, referring to overtime nonconference wins against Holy Cross and Yale and a big comeback win over Kent State. “Sometimes we just win. We were fortunate to come up with some big plays.”
Seton Hall coach Louis Orr blamed his team’s loss on how it performed in the final minutes.
“We held Boston College to 37 percent shooting but there is a sense of toughness that we still need to obtain in order to finish out these games,” he said. “We have been able in the past to win these games with poor shooting because we understood how to play with toughness.”
Two Big East teams had gone 19-0 before, but Connecticut in 1998-99 and Syracuse in 1999-2000 both lost in their 20th game.
The Eagles, who will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, won 19 straight games in the 1968-69 season. Their next game is Tuesday at Notre Dame.
“We know we have a target on our backs,” Smith said. “We just have to go out and do our jobs.”
Skinner said he doesn’t talk to the team about the streak or even Big East records.
“If we focus on being successful in this league then we’ll be successful,” Skinner said. “If we stay neat and narrow, all those other things will take care of themselves.”
Dudley said the team didn’t talk about the Big East record.
“There was never a group discussion but there were individual conversations,” he said. “You have to talk to your roommate about something no other team has ever done.”
With Seton Hall dictating the pace of the game, the 35-second shot clock was often in single digits and there were a number of forced shots by both teams.
Seton Hall was trying for its second win over a Top Five team in as many seasons. The Pirates knocked off fourth-ranked Pittsburgh last February.