Boston College fends off Clemson comeback, pulls away late for 75-68 victory

Tigers rallied from 20 points down to within one before losing third straight close ACC road game

Clemson center Devin Booker shoots a lay up in the second half.  FILE PHOTO

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson center Devin Booker shoots a lay up in the second half. FILE PHOTO

BOSTON — Boston College coach Steve Donahue knows nothing is easy when you're trying to rebuild from a miserable season.

And Saturday's win over Clemson was proof of that.

Freshman Joe Rahon scored a season-high 26 points and Boston College snapped a five-game losing streak with a 75-68 win over Clemson despite nearly blowing a 17-point lead in the closing 5½ minutes.

"People will say, 'It wasn't pretty,'" Donahue said. "I'm happy with this win. It was pretty enough."

The Eagles (10-11, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) surpassed their victory total of last season, when they went 9-22.

Lonnie Jackson nailed four clutch free throws to finish with 14 points for Boston College, and Ryan Anderson had a pair of key baskets late and scored 12 points.

Donahue believes his team should be feeling better after hanging on, despite its recent struggles.

"Every positive thing is crucial in everything we're doing," he said. "If you don't have success — like everything in life — it's hard. How's the confidence? Fragile."

Devin Booker scored 20 points and became the 36th player in Clemson history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, joining older brother Trevor (2009) as the second brother combo in school history. Randy and Richie Mahaffey did it in the 1960s.

The Tigers (12-9, 4-5) were shooting near 30 percent until they started to hit from long range in the closing 7 minutes, but it came too late.

It was Clemson's poor start that frustrated coach Brad Brownell.

"We missed a bunch of makeable shots at the beginning of the game. A lot of them were very makeable," he said. "Those are shots you just have to make to put pressure on the opponent. We made some — too little, too late."

Milton Jennings had 13 points and Jordan Roper 11 for the Tigers, who had won their last two games.

Jackson's 3-pointer from the left wing gave BC a 65-48 lead, but the Tigers scored the next 13 points, slicing the deficit to four on Jennings' jumper with 2:32 left.

"Everyone did a good job of keeping their poise," Rahon said.

Adonis Filer's 3 cut it to 67-66 with 75 seconds left, but Anderson followed with a layup off Rahon's pass on the Eagles' ensuing possession. Anderson's layup came after his jumper from the wing gave BC a 67-61 edge, snapping a scoreless stretch of nearly 4 minutes.

"Ryan did a good job of getting to a (spot) and we dumped the ball to him," Rahon said of Anderson's layup. "That was a game-changing shot."

Jennings' long 3-point attempt then went off the front rim before Jackson sealed it by hitting four free throws in the final 30 seconds.

"I want those free throws at the end of the game," Jackson said. "I want those pressure shots."

The Tigers fell to 4-7 in games away from Littlejohn Coliseum.

"We didn't come out ready to play and, sure we made a late run, but it wasn't enough," Roper said. "You just have to come out and play your best."

BC jumped to a 15-6 edge in the opening 10 minutes, taking advantage of Clemson's horrible shooting. The Tigers missed 18 of their initial 22 shots, many from close range and a large number of those on put-back attempts.

The noon start had both teams looking like they were trying to get used to playing basketball in the opening 3 minutes, with a number of passes being bobbled or lost out of bounds.

Clemson sliced BC's lead to 18-14 on Booker's free throw before the Eagles closed the half with a 12-5 spree to pull to a 30-19 advantage at intermission.

The Tigers shot just 23.1 percent in the first half (6 of 26).

In the second half, BC pushed its lead to 44-27 on Rahon's free throw with 15:39 to play. The Tigers never seemed to get into a rhythm offensively, struggling to get decent looks against the smaller Eagles.

After BC opened its 17-point lead, Clemson tried some full-court pressure, but the Eagles responded with a wide-open 3 by Rahon from the right corner and an easy backdoor cut for a layup by Jackson.

Clemson's frustration on offense showed with just under 10 minutes to play when Booker missed an easy put-back and threw an elbow at Patrick Heckmann when he was fouled, drawing a technical for his excessive aggressiveness.

Anderson's foul-line jumper gave BC a 57-37 edge with 9½ minutes to play.

With just under 10 minutes left in the game, the Tigers were still shooting 29 percent. But consecutive 3s by Roper cut it to 60-48 with just over 6 minutes left.

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Comments » 1

waran writes:

Why is that when Brownell’s basketball team loses I still feel that we did a great job, achieved something and will be better soon? But when our football team loses one game, I feel so crushed and annoyed (e.g., after the USC game). Is it because Clemson is primarily a football program? Or is it because even in these losses, the basketball team does not embarrass itself?

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