GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)—Jared Dudley and his Boston College teammates apparently have grown tired of watching opponents jump to early leads.
Craig Smith had 21 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead the 11th-ranked Eagles to an 80-66 victory over Maryland in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Friday night, giving BC its ninth win in 10 games.
Tyrese Rice added 19 points for the third-seeded Eagles (25-6), who got off to a great start in their first tournament appearance to earn a date with No. 10 North Carolina in Saturday’s semifinals.
The win allowed Boston College to avenge a 73-71 loss at Maryland in its league debut, which was part of an 0-3 start in its new conference. The Eagles led throughout this time, scoring 19 of the game’s first 21 points and taking a 21-point lead midway through the first half.
Sixth-seeded Maryland (19-12) never got closer than 14 points.
Dudley, a junior who finished with 18 points, considered it a lesson learned from a 78-72 loss to West Virginia in the Big East tournament quarterfinals last year. In that game, the Mountaineers took a 44-22 halftime lead on the top-seeded Eagles.
“People wanted to come out with a different mindset,” Dudley said. “We came out kind of flat and they definitely put it on us. We know we’re just a better team and we played harder, and now at the end of the year, you want to get rewarded for all your hard work.”
Jumping to early leads of 19-2, 22-4 and 27-6 left the Eagles in the comfortable position of playing from ahead after trailing at halftime in 10 games this year, including three times in the past five games.
“We were in a rhythm,” Smith said. “We wanted to come out and be the aggressors for once and bring it to the other team, and we did.”
James Gist scored 14 points for the Terrapins, who routed Georgia Tech to reach the quarterfinals but couldn’t follow up with another strong performance. They shot 24 percent in the first half and 35 percent for the game, leaving them with plenty to think about as they wait to find out whether they’re heading back to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.
“I know I’ve worked hard, and I know the players have worked hard this year,” coach Gary Williams said. “We’ve had to overcome some things, and I hope that’s good enough. We’re going to be just like everybody else: we’re going to wait and see what happens Sunday. That’s all we can do.”
The Terrapins, who lost leading scorer Chris McCray to academic problems in January, also got a scare when Nik Caner-Medley suffered a sprained right ankle with about 16 minutes to play. Caner-Medley limped off the court before being taken to the locker room for further examination, and did not return to the game.
Williams said Caner-Medley could have returned if the game was close.
Boston College shot 50 percent, going 7-for-13 from behind the arc and hitting 21 of 28 free throws. The Eagles also finished with 21 assists on 26 baskets, including a feed from Smith to Akida McLain for a jumper and the 27-6 lead with 9 minutes left in the first half.
It was clear just how badly things were going for the Terrapins with only a few glances toward the Maryland bench and the demonstrative Williams, who had already peeled off his jacket by the first official timeout.
A few minutes later, Williams seemed exasperated after D.J. Strawberry forced up a bad shot from the left side early in the possession, prompting Williams to yell across the court, “D.J.! What’s that?”
And when the Terps allowed Louis Hinnant to penetrate and dish to Smith for an easy dunk just before halftime for a 41-22 lead, Williams could do little other than raise both hands and clutch his head in frustration.
“We just didn’t come out like the team that we’ve been coming out in the last couple of games,” Strawberry said. “We got down early, and we just gave them confidence.”
The lead grew to 59-35 on a runner by Rice with 12 1/2 minutes left before the Terrapins closed the margin to 14 points three times in the final minutes. Maryland made its best push with a 10-0 run to close to 61-47 on free throws by Gist with 7:31 left, but Boston College answered with two free throws from Rice and a tip-in by Dudley to push it back to 18.