No. 24 Pittsburgh 72, No. 5 Boston College 50

Preview | Box Score | Recap

BOSTON (AP)—Pittsburgh could still earn a bye in the Big East tournament and a berth in the NCAAs thanks to its old friends at Boston College.

John DeGroat had eight points and six rebounds in 10 second-half minutes Monday night to help the 24th-ranked Panthers snap a three-game losing streak by beating No. 5 Boston College 72-50. The decisive victory was Pitt’s sixth straight over the Eagles—including three in the conference tournament—and it kept BC from clinching a share of the Big East title.

“They’ve got our number,” BC forward Jared Dudley said. “Pittsburgh’s done it to us the last couple of years. They like playing against us.”

Three straight losses—the last two at home—had knocked Pitt (19-7, 9-6), which had been ranked as high as No. 10, from 17th to 24th in the AP poll. The Panthers went from a team worried about its NCAA seeding to one in danger of missing the tournament completely.

Pittsburgh, which holds the fifth and last spot right now for a first-round bye, will finish the regular season at Notre Dame on Saturday.

“This is the real Pittsburgh team right here. That’s really how we play,” guard Carl Krauser said. “Everyone knows the Pittsburgh team is tough.”

Boston College (23-3, 12-3) isn’t likely to forget it, either.

The Eagles, who are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, could still win the Big East outright or share it if they beat Rutgers on Saturday. No. 15 Connecticut, which is a half-game behind BC, plays Georgetown on Wednesday and No. 13 Syracuse on Saturday.

“This game was extremely important to them. But it was important to us, too. We had something to gain here,” BC coach Al Skinner said. “The motivation for them was fine, but that’s no reason we should have allowed something like this to occur.”

Antonio Graves had 13 points and five rebounds; Chris Taft had 12 and eight; Chevon Troutman had 11 and seven, and Krauser had 10 and eight for Pitt. The Panthers outrebounded the Eagles 49-27—27-10 in the second half—and outshot them 48 percent to 31 percent.

“They came in here and it was men against boys,” said BC’s Craig Smith.

The Eagles won their first 20 games and attained their highest ranking ever — No. 3—before losing two of their last three games. Another sellout crowd came to say goodbye to the senior class, and Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie jammed with the band, playing the drums on “Johnny B. Good.”

Even with a chance to clinch the conference title, BC barely put up a fight.

Smith scored 22 points but was the only Eagle in double figures. With 5:47 left and BC trailing 59-45, Smith airballed one free throw and then meekly rolled his second off the back of the rim.

And that convinced the Conte Forum crowd to try to beat the oncoming blizzard.

For BC, the loss was shockingly similar to the one posted by its football team in the Big East finale that knocked it from the lucrative Fiesta Bowl to the Continental Tire Bowl. Like that 47-17 loss to Syracuse, this one wasn’t even close.

Smith hit a jumper in the lane to make it 34-32 with 17:38 left. But Pittsburgh scored the next 11 points, getting consecutive putbacks from DeGroat to make it 45-32.

BC went 7:19 without scoring while Pitt ran off 11 consecutive points—five from Krauser and four from Troutman—to take a 16-9 lead. Smith scored 11 consecutive BC points as the Eagles cut it to 26-23.

In the first half, BC shot 29 percent (10-for-34) from the field.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Pittsburgh
C. Krauser C. Krauser
2-7,  10 Pts
7 Rebs, 7 Assists
 Boston Coll.
C. Smith C. Smith
8-20,  22 Pts
6 Rebs, 1 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists