Eagles wear down Indiana, 77-68 The Cinderella region: Florida and BC advance to East final

March 26, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

MIAMI -- It has been an amazing school year at Boston College, where the students are running out of room on their T-shirts for all of the amazing athletic achievements of 1993-94.

The Eagles upset top-ranked Notre Dame in one of the most exciting football games in NCAA history last November.

They upset top-seeded and No. 1-ranked North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament last week at the USAir Arena.

Perhaps against that backdrop, last night's 77-68 East Regional victory over the fifth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers was no miracle, but Boston College's unlikely march toward the Final Four continued at the Miami Arena.

How many coaches can say that they defeated Dean Smith and Bob Knight in back-to-back games?

Jim O'Brien can, after his team came from five points down in the final seven minutes and scored the game's final 10 points to move into the round of eight against third seed Florida, a 69-60 winner in overtime over second seed Connecticut in the second game.

Senior guard Howard Eisley scored a game-high 18 points to lead a balanced offensive attack that also included 15-point performances from forward Malcolm Huckaby and guard Gerrod Abram.

The Eagles hit an impressive 62.5 percent of their three-point attempts (10 of 16) to push Indiana out of the tournament.

"It was a shame that somebody had to lose that game," O'Brien said, "because I thought it was a classic basketball game. I was sitting on the sidelines at the end knowing that my kids were tired and I couldn't sub and their kids were tired and they couldn't sub. It was like two fighters slugging it out at the end.

"It was a great game. Obviously, I'm very happy we won. It was a tremendous victory for our team."

The Eagles were coming off a very physical -- and unfriendly -- upset over North Carolina, so there was no reason to change the game plan for the Hoosiers.

Boston College defeated the Tar Heels with a simple strategy -- hit the three-point shot to set up the easy baskets inside for Curley.

That's the way they attacked Indiana, and had a great deal of success in the early minutes of the game.

Huckaby and Abram set the tone immediately, scoring from three-point range the first two times down the court. The Eagles immediately worked off the perimeter for a basket inside and then scored off a long rebound to take a 10-4 lead into the first TV timeout.

There was a point in the first 10 minutes when the Eagle attack looked almost flawless and the Hoosiers looked like they were in for a very long night, especially when a string of four straight three-pointers -- and sixth overall -- gave BC a 22-8 lead just 8 1/2 minutes into the game.

The Eagles hit six of their first eight three-point attempts, but Knight made a defensive adjustment that limited Boston College to just two more attempts from that range in the first half.

The potential of the three-point shot to swing the momentum dramatically in either direction was obvious at both ends of the court.

The Hoosiers worked the ball inside effectively for a string of easy baskets, then popped three straight three-pointers of their own during a 10-2 run that helped them close the gap to just two points at the half.

"We were right on the edge of getting knocked out," Knight said. "At the timeout, I said, we've got to get back even at the half. We did and I was really pleased with that."

Indiana tied the game on the first possession of the second half and took the lead for the first time in the game on a three-point shot by Pat Graham, but the Eagles were able to come back from a five-point deficit in the final seven minutes, scoring the

last nine points to put away the Hoosiers.

"We got back in position to win when we got up by five," Knight added, "but I think they deserve more credit for winning after being down by five points than we would have deserved for winning after being up by five points.

l "They made some really big plays. I turned to Danny [assistant coach Danny Dakich] and said, 'this is the toughest-minded bunch of kids we've played.' They stayed with us defensively, man-to-man," he said.

"They showed tenacity. And they were quick. I felt that might have been a major difference between the two teams."

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