No. 3 Boston College 70, Seton Hall 58
BOSTON (AP)—Craig Smith might be a candidate for Big East player of the year, but when it comes to getting up early in the morning he’s just like any other student.
So when he was asked why No. 3 Boston College had so much trouble in the first half against Seton Hall on Saturday, he answered like a kid who slept through class.
“Twelve o’clock, which is 9 a.m. West Coast time,” the California native said after the Eagles recovered to beat Seton Hall 70-58. “We need to come out with a lot more energy and a little more aggressiveness.”
Jared Dudley had 19 points and seven rebounds for Boston College (23-2, 12-2), which could clinch a share of the Big East regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win over No. 18 Pittsburgh at home Monday.
No. 17 Connecticut, which beat Pitt 73-64 Saturday, remains one game back.
It would be the sixth and final league title for the Eagles, who are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
“That’s been our goal all year,” Dudley said.
Kelly Whitney, who missed the previous game with a suspension, had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Seton Hall (11-14, 3-11). John Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates, who lost for the fourth consecutive game and the seventh time in their last eight. They are 0-7 against ranked teams.
Smith scored 16 with seven rebounds but was just 6-for-19 from the field for Boston College, which made 18 of 19 free throws in the final 8:08 to turn a two-point game into a runaway.
Jermaine Watson was 9-for-10 from the line for 11 points overall, making all six free throw attempts in the final 18 seconds. There were three technical fouls called with 1.8 seconds left, but no real skirmishes and the teams lined up to shake hands before leaving the court.
“Al and I, we’re friends. We just wanted to make sure that when the game was over it ended on the best note possible,” Seton Hall coach Louis Orr said, referring to Eagles coach Al Skinner. “I’m not going to say what it was. It was what it was.”
The frustration was apparently caused by the imbalance in foul calls: 25 on Seton Hall to 15 against BC. That led to 33 foul shots for the Eagles—they made 25—to 18 for Seton Hall, which made 12.
“They got to the line an awful lot. It was tough for us to get to the line,” Orr said. “It’s tough under those conditions.”
The performance at the line was a turnaround for BC since its last game—a 76-70 defeat in which the Eagles went 17-for-23 from the line compared to Villanova’s 36-for-41.
“Energy-wise, we didn’t come out to play early on,” Dudley said. “We didn’t respect our opponent. Maybe it was a little letdown after the loss.”
And it might have had something to do with the noon start.
“It’s always tough with noon games,” Watson said. “In college, you’re on a different schedule. It takes a little while to get wound up. This is like 8 a.m. for me.”
There were four lead changes in the second half before BC took the lead on Smith’s short jumper with 10:17 left that made it 48-46. BC didn’t score a basket for the next 6:01, but the Eagles made six of seven free throws to make it a 54-49 game.
Whitney, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, returned after a one-game suspension for violating team rules. The Pirates were still without guard Justin Cerasoli, who was sidelined with an injured right foot, and guard J.R. Morris is suspended for academic reasons.