West Virginia 78, No. 7 Boston College 72
NEW YORK (AP)—West Virginia made sure Boston College’s last appearance in the Big East tournament was brief.
Mike Gansey scored 21 points and West Virginia hung on to upset No. 7 Boston College 78-72 in the quarterfinals Thursday, ruining the Eagles’ bid for a final conference championship.
“It’s a great feeling to come in here, play against a good team and prove that we’re a good team,” Mountaineers center Kevin Pittsnogle said. “We’re having a lot of fun.”
Pittsnogle added 17 points for the Mountaineers (20-9), who very likely wrapped up at least an NCAA tournament at-large bid by impressing the selection committee with the surprising win over the Big East’s top seed.
“That committee is so thorough with this thing and they will choose the right teams,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said. “Obviously, I’m biased, but they will choose the right teams and there’s no doubt in our minds that we’re one of the right teams.”
West Virginia, the No. 8 seed, improved to 3-8 in the tournament and advanced to its first semifinals—against Villanova—Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Making the win even more impressive was the fact that the Mountaineers did it without top scorer Tyrone Sally, who missed the game with a stomach ailment.
Craig Smith scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Boston College (24-4), which leaves the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference after this season.
“They came out and were aggressive,” Smith said. “When you’re top dog, people are going to come for you. You know, this is a wakeup call for us. We still have a chance to do something special.”
The Eagles, who shared the regular-season title with Connecticut, sputtered through their last eight games, going just 4-4 after starting off 20-0 and possibly hurting their chances at earning a top-3 seed.
“Guys have to take a little pride in themselves and with their team and go out and work harder,” Boston College coach Al Skinner said. “It’s just that simple. Our preparation, our focus has got to be there. Right now, it’s lacking.”
West Virginia beat Providence 82-59 in the first round Wednesday and looked as though it would run away with another win against Boston College before the Eagles stormed back.
The Mountaineers took their biggest lead—25 points—just 19 seconds into the second half on Gansey’s three-point play that made it 47-22.
“We didn’t come out and play the way we’re capable of playing,” Boston College’s Jared Dudley said. “West Virginia came out, were more aggressive and executed their offense. We didn’t defend them at all.”
Trailing 50-26, Boston College went on a 10-0 run, capped by consecutive dunks by Sean Marshall to get the Eagles within 14 at 50-36 with 13:16 left.
The Eagles continued to whittle away at the lead, but the 6-foot-11 Pittsnogle hit a 3-pointer with 8:16 left to make it 58-44.
Boston College went on an 11-5 run, capped by Marshall’s 3-pointer, to make it 62-58 with 4:41 left.
“We imploded there for I don’t know how long it was—it seemed like a year,” Beilein said.
West Virginia scored the next three baskets—including the third of Pittsnogle’s 3-pointers on the day—to push the lead back up to 11 and prompt fans to chant “ACC! ACC!”
“Thank goodness Kevin hits the big 3 and then we did some other things well, but we’re going to take it,” Beilein said. “We’re going to take it and move on to the semis.”
As the teams traded foul shots during the last minute, the fans got on Boston College even more, chanting “Over-rated!”
West Virginia, which shot 10-for-18 from 3-point range, was 8-for-11 from long distance at halftime—a major reason the Mountaineers led 44-22 at the break.
Frank Young added 14 points and Joe Herber had eight points and eight rebounds for West Virginia.
Dudley scored 17 points and Marshall 15 for Boston College, which had won seven of the last eight meetings.
“They were just way too comfortable in the first half,” Skinner said. “There was no real defensive energy for us.”