BC goes down for count close-up

Eagles miss shot to send game to OT by shooting a layup

USC wins, 74-71

NCAA Tournament

March 18, 2001|By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Uka Agabi said it was a case of miscommunication.

"I was screaming at Kenny [Harley] to shoot the three," said Agbai, Boston College's forward.

Southern California's Sam Clancy had no idea what Harley was thinking.

"I was like, `What's he doing? They're down by three and he's going for two,' " Clancy said.

The reason for all the confusion was Boston College's Harley.

No. 3 seed Boston College was trailing by three and preparing for a potentially tying shot as the Eagles raced downcourt with 7.5 seconds to play. When Eagles guard Troy Bell found himself double-teamed with nowhere to go, he kicked the ball over to Harley -- who had a wide-open look at a three-pointer and an opportunity to send the game into overtime.

Instead, Harley inexplicably drove to the basket, missing a layup with two seconds to play as Boston College's NCAA run ended with a 74-71 loss to USC at the Nassau Coliseum.

The sixth-seeded Trojans (23-9) moved on to face No. 2 Kentucky in the East Regional semifinals Thursday in Philadelphia.

"It came down to the last shot so I tried to go for a three-point play," Harley said. "At least I tried to go all the way to the basket. I tried to make a layup and hope for the `and one.' I was trying to stop the clock. That's what I was trying to do. I just tried to make a play."

Boston College coach Al Skinner immediately came to his senior's defense when asked about Harley's late-game decision.

"First of all, you're putting too much emphasis on one play," Skinner said. "Our philosophy is that if there is time on the clock, get a good shot -- which means take the ball to the basket. That's what we teach. Let's not get carried away."

The player who made perhaps the biggest difference for the Trojans was a backup point guard who played fewer than eight minutes.

Robert Hutchinson didn't enter the game until starting point guard Brandon Granville fouled out with 7:06 to play and USC holding a 56-48 lead.

But after overcoming some initial jitters -- he turned the ball over twice in the first 1:03 he was in the game -- Hutchinson helped the Trojans hold off the hard-charging Eagles by sinking five of six free throws in the game's final 1:17.

"I knew when Brandon fouled out I'd have to step up and take my team to the Sweet 16," Hutchinson said. "This is the opportunity I've been waiting for."

Four times in the final 4:09, Boston College (27-5), the Big East champion, had pulled within one. But with USC clinging to a 65-64 lead with 1:17 left, Hutchinson hit his first two free throws for a three-point Trojans lead. After a jam from Clancy made it 69-64, the Eagles got a pair of free throws from Harley (10 points) and a dunk from Agbai to pull within 69-68 with 36.8 seconds to play.

But three more free throws from Hutchinson, the last one coming with 7.5 seconds to play, plus a pair of foul shots by David Bluthenthal (20 points) sandwiched around a three-pointer by Bell gave the Trojans a three-point lead and set the stage for Boston College's bizarre ending.

"I take responsibility for the last play," said Bell, who finished with a game-high 32 points. "I should have pulled up and shot that [last shot]."

SOUTHERN CAL--Bluthenthal 5-8 9-11 20, Clancy 5-6 4-12 14, Scalabrine 2-4 0-0 4, Granville 2-7 4-4 9, Trepagnier 7-11 2-2 18, Turner 1-1 2-2 4, Hutchinson 0-0 5-6 5, Murphy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-37 26-37 74. BOSTON COLLEGE --Agbai 5-10 2-2 12, Walls 0-1 1-2 1, Singletary 2-10 2-2 6, Bell 8-20 12-14 32, Harley 2-12 5-6 10, Beerbohm 1-5 0-0 3, Sidney 3-9 0-0 6, Ross 0-2 1-1 1. Totals 21-69 23-27 71.

Halftime--Southern Cal, 35-31. 3-point goals--Southern Cal 4-12 (Trepagnier 2-4, Bluthenthal 1-4, Granville 1-4), Boston College 6-23 (Bell 4-10, Beerbohm 1-2, Harley 1-3, Sidney 0-3, Singletary 0-5). Fouled out--Clancy, Granville. Rebounds--Southern Cal 41 (Clancy 12), Boston College 28 (Bell 5). Assists--Southern Cal 13 (Granville 6), Boston College 11 (Bell 3). Total fouls--Southern Cal 20, Boston College 27.

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