Boston College beats Wake Forest 80-72
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — For once, Boston College was the team pushing its opponent around on the boards.
Ryan Anderson scored 24 points while the Eagles dominated the glass in their 80-72 win at Wake Forest on Saturday.
Olivier Hanlan added 17 points for the Eagles (8-21, 4-12 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for just the second time in a month. BC had stunned then-No. 1 Syracuse on the road on Feb. 19 only to lose its other seven games in February, including the past two at Miami and at home to Pittsburgh.
BC shook free of its season-long struggles to earn its third road win heading into the final two regular-season games and the ACC tournament in Greensboro beyond that.
“The best part about the ACC tournament is it gives you a clean slate,” Anderson said. “Whatever bad losses you’ve had all season long, they get wiped away for one week and you get a new opportunity. That’s what we’re trying to get ready for.”
Boston College came in as the ACC’s worst rebounding team, having been outrebounded 17 times this year overall and 21 times on the offensive glass, according to STATS LLC.
But after a series of physical practices with an emphasis on being tough enough to snatch down the loose ball, the Eagles finished with a 36-21 rebounding advantage — including 13-2 on the offensive glass that led to a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points against the similarly feeble-boarding Demon Deacons (15-14, 5-11). It led to 11 more shot attempts in the first half and seven for the game for a team that shot just 42 percent and needed those extra looks.
Coach Steve Donahue also used reserve junior center K.C. Caudill more to help on the rebounding front, with the 6-foot-11, 277-pound Caudill setting career highs with seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
“It was just every drill we did. Everything was competitive,” Caudill said. “If you didn’t go after the rebound, you lost points — just punishing us every time we didn’t go after it. And we got the message.”
Devin Thomas and Travis McKie each scored 18 points to lead Wake Forest, which shot 47 percent. But the Demon Deacons couldn’t get enough defensive stops nor keep the Eagles off the glass consistently, grabbing just nine rebounds after halftime and one offensive rebound in each half.
BC led 30-24 at halftime before Wake Forest rallied to tie the game at 35 and take a 42-40 lead on two free throws from Tyler Cavanaugh with 13:51 left. But Patrick Heckmann answered with a 3-pointer, Wake Forest freshman Miles Overton airballed his own then Lonnie Jackson followed with one in transition that put BC back up 46-42 with 13:08 left.
The Eagles didn’t trail again, scoring on 14 of 16 possessions from the 35-all tie and hitting 27 of 34 free throws after halftime to stay in control.
It was the kind of home loss that won’t help Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik’s fading standing with the fan base.
Wake Forest appeared ready for a breakthrough season after beating in-state rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State in January. But a home loss to Syracuse started a run of seven straight losses that drained all momentum, ending with last weekend’s disastrous 105-72 loss to the Tar Heels.
The Demon Deacons regrouped to beat Clemson here Tuesday night, but followed with Saturday’s performance that ended with several students yelling “Buzz out!” — a slogan Bzdelik’s critics use in pushing for the coach’s firing — in the final seconds.
“If we miss (a shot), then we have this tendency to have it linger in our head, like, ‘What’s wrong with my shot?’ or whatever,” Bzdelik said. “I don’t know what it is. You can’t play the game like that. But somehow we’ve got to get over that.”
Time is running out on that front. The Demon Deacons play their home finale Wednesday against No. 6 Duke then close the regular season at Miami.
“We’ve just got to get up and play basketball,” McKie said. “We just can’t walk off and say the season’s over. The season is not over.”
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