BOSTON (AP)—A couple of blocked shots by Boston College’s Sean Williams made up for what Eagles’ head coach Al Skinner considered a poor defensive showing.
Jared Dudley scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, including five in the final 1:16, to lead No. 17 Boston College to a 67-61 win over Clemson on Saturday night.
Sean Marshall had 18 points and Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant had 11 apiece for the Eagles (19-5, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). BC has won eight of its last nine games after starting its inaugural ACC season 0-3.
But it was Williams’ two blocks in the last minute that saved the Eagles from a possible upset.
“Blocking shots is the last line of defense, you don’t want to rely on it,” Skinner said. “It’s nice that he can bail you out, but you don’t want to rely on it because it doesn’t give him a chance to play the quality game that he can.”
Akin Akingbala had 21 points and K.C. Rivers 13 for the Tigers (14-10, 3-8). Clemson has lost seven of its last eight games.
The Tigers erased a 14-point deficit in the final 8 1/2 minutes, tying it on Hammonds’ basket when Williams was called for goaltending with 1:39 to play. But that’s when Williams’ stepped up for BC.
“Down the stretch it’s all about execution on defense,” Marshall said. “We got beat off the dribble, but Sean came in and made some huge blocks for us.”
Williams blocked shots on consecutive possessions after he was called for goaltending. After the first block, Dudley scored in the lane and was fouled on BC’s next trip, hitting one free throw, to make it 64-59.
“It’s not that you’re thinking about (Williams), but at the end he made some huge blocks for them,” Clemson forward Raymond Sykes said.
Clemson trailed 55-41 after Dudley’s basket with 8:34 left, but forced some turnovers off its press and went on a 10-0 run to cut it to four on Vernon Hamilton’s steal and layup with 5:23 to play.
The Tigers trailed 59-54, but tied it after a 3-pointer by Rivers and Hammonds’ basket off Williams’ goaltending.
But Dudley was fouled on BC’s next possession, making both free throws with 1:16 to play.
Smith, who left the floor in the second half to get his right thumb taped, sealed it with two free throws in the final 12.4 seconds.
“You have to give them credit. They made a couple of defensive plays down the stretch on blocks,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “Then, at the end, they went inside to Dudley and Smith, and their big guns got in done for them.”
Hamilton left after the game with his left arm in a sling after suffering a sprained elbow.
BC led by six at the half and opened the second half by scoring eight of the first 13 points, pulling to a 40-31 edge on Marshall’s jumper with 17:26 to play.
The Tigers stayed within seven points and again were able to slow the pace to their style until Hinnant made a 3-pointer from the left wing and Dudley completed a four-point play to make it 50-40 with 10:25 left.
After his four-point play, Dudley had a breakaway dunk after a tip-pass from Hinnant to push it to 52-40.
The Eagles, who held Clemson to 32 percent shooting (10-of-32) in the first half, led 32-26 at intermission.
The teams were tied four times and the pace was slow for the opening 12 minutes before the Eagles figured out Clemson’s zone and took charge, going on 13-2 run over a 5:07 stretch. Marshall had three baskets and Hinnant scored five points in the spurt.