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Boston College gets 68-61 road win at Clemson

March 6, 2013

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Tight games have been the norm for Boston College this season. Thirteen of the Eagles’ games have been decided by five points or fewer.

It has forced a young Boston College team to grow up quickly and gain the ability to handle adversity like the Eagles faced Tuesday in their 68-61 victory over Clemson on the Tigers’ Senior Night.

“I don’t think anybody in the country has been through what we’ve been through,” said coach Steve Donahue, whose team came in with a 2-8 road record. “They’ve been through so much, all these guys.

“There are no juniors and seniors playing, so these guys have done all the minutes. It’s not like they’ve been kind of sitting there. They’ve been playing 30, 35 minutes and they’ve been on the wrong end a lot. This was not unusual.”

The crowd of 7,102 had come to bid farewell to seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, but BC spoiled the party with its first victory in six games at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Freshman guard Olivier Hanlan scored a game-high 24 points, hitting 12 of 14 from the free throw line, to lead BC (14-16, 6-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) to back-to-back conference wins for the first time this season.

Ryan Anderson had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Joe Rahon scored 10 as the Eagles, who beat Clemson 75-68 at home on Feb. 2, got all but two points from their starters, hitting 16 of 23 free throws in the second half.

“I thought we finally put together a second half that we’ve been looking to do on the road,” Donahue said. “We’ve had a lot of games that we’ve been tied at half, then run out of gas.

“I thought the second half tonight was finally a step for a young team.”

Clemson scored the first seven points, yet never shook the Eagles, leading by only two at halftime despite shooting 50 percent from the field (13 of 26) to BC’s 35.5 (11-31).

Booker led Clemson with 19 points and eight rebounds, Jennings had 18 and seven, and Damarcus Harrison came off the bench to score 11.

“I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t send our seniors out in a better way,” said Tigers coach Brad Brownell. “I thought both those guys competed hard tonight and certainly were very productive.

“Offensively, I thought our efficiency was pretty good, but defensively we had a hard time guarding them in the second half.”

Clemson twice led by as many as seven points early, and the game was tied seven times before BC took the lead when Anderson spun the ball off the glass, was fouled by Adonis Filer and sank the free throw to make it 47-46 with 8:47 to play.

The Eagles’ lead reached as many as nine points three times down the stretch.

Winning a conference game on the road could not be overstated, Donahue said. The Eagles wrap up their schedule at home Saturday with Georgia Tech.

“I think we’ve played as well as anybody in terms of a comparison between home and away,” he said. “I think we’ve been very consistent. I just thought tonight was another step, in terms of these guys understanding it.”

With only the two seniors and no juniors, Brownell can empathize. Clemson (13-16, 5-12) has lost five straight and eight of its last nine. The Tigers wrap up their schedule Saturday at Miami.

“It sounds silly,” he said, “but a bunch of these games are just two or three shots from being completely different.”

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