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Eagles Swat Away Wolverines, ACC Drops Challenge

Corey Raji (Photo Courtesy AP)

The clock in the Crisler Arena read 5:08 when Reggie Jackson’s layup fell through the net giving Boston College 57 points and a 17 point lead. Just four minutes later the Eagles still had 57 points and saw Manny Harris, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, with the ball with a chance to slice BC’s lead to three.

Harris instead elected to drive the lane blowing by his defender leaving what looked an open lane to the basket. But as it did all night, the Eagles defense bailed out its erratic offense. Joe Trapani met Harris mid-double clutche as the guard attempted to avoid the defender. Trapani still swatted the shot. The Eagles quickly corraled the loose ball and nailed two free throws ending an 11-0 run. The tenacious defensive effort propelled the Eagles to a 62-58 against the Wolverines in a game that was not nearly as close as the score implies.

Defense Key as Eagles Build Lead

Boston College suffocated Michigan’s offense, holding them to  a 28 percent shooting in the first half. The home team mustered nine made field goals in the first 20 minutes of play. During an 11:43 span in the first half, the Eagles held the Wolverines to only two field goals. Unfortunately the offense could not take advantage of the stout defensive play. During Michigan’s drought BC, bouyed its lead from five to 11. Corey Raji attempted to complement the defense, dropping 17 of his game high 24 in the first half and it worked to an extent. 

Eagles Offense Goes Flat in Second Half

Raji’s first half output was just seven shy of Michigan’s 24 points, 13 lower than its previous first half low allowing Eagles take 10 point lead into the locker room, one that could have been much larger though. The harrasment of the Michigan offense continued in the second half, as did the erractic offensive play. The Eagles all but ended the game jumping out to a 7-0 run in the first 2:08 of the second half, but then failed to score again for another two minutes, while Michigan suddenly had no problem scoring  as it went on a 7-0 run of its own.

The BC defense responded though. Over the next 9:30, the Boston College defense put the game away holding the Wolverines to just two field goals. It was the one time in the game that both the offense and defense clicked leading to a 17 point Eagle cushion. BC held Michigan to 36 precent shooting in the second half  and 32 percent for the game, 12 points below its season average.

A lack of offense allowed Harris and Co. to chisel away at the Boston College lead. Harris’ four free throws sandwhiched Zack Gibson’s  back to back three-pointers, cutting BC’s lead to nine. On Michigan’s next possesion, Harris waved his teammates signaling a clearout allowing him to bank  a step back three off the glass over Biko Paris with 1:56 remaining. A minute later Trapani’s block finally put an end to the Harris show and BC sealed the game with free throws. While Harris lead a surging comeback the Eagles made only two shots from the field in the final 12:45.

Big Ten-ACC Challenge

This contest was part of the 11 game Big Ten-ACC Challenge, an annual competition matching teams from each conference in a battle for league supremacy. Coming into 2009, the ACC has won all 10 battles. BC has done its part, improving to 4-0 in the Challenge and this was their second win at Michigan in the series. Duke was the only other undefeated team in the history of the conference rivalry until they lost tonight dropping them to a still impressive 10-1. The ACC lost six of the 11 tilts as the Big Ten secured the hardware for the first time in the Challenge history. The Eagles will be in action again Sunday as they begin conference play against Miami. The game is also the first of eight straight home games.

Hero

Corey Raji - With nine minutes remaining in the first half Raji had 13 points and Michigan had 12. Raji scored 17 in the first and finished with 24, two shy of a career high. Not to mention he was an efficient 11-of-16 from the field and grabbed nine boards too.

Zero

DeShawn Sims - Michigan’s second leading scorer (16.4) finished the game four points, the same number of fouls he committed.

Fat Lady Sings

:55 - Joe Trapani swatted Manny Harris ending any hopes of a Michigan comback, ending an 11-0 run as Reggie Jackson then went to the line and made both free throws.

Big Number

2 - The number of shots the Eagles made in the last 12:45, but still managed to hold on for the win.

Stat To Know

58 is a Lucky Number - The Eagles held an opponent to 58 points for the third time this year. The Eagles won all three games.

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