Inside-outside game baffles Hokies in rout
Boston College 87, Virginia Tech 69
Published: Monday, February 24, 2003
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The Boston College men's basketball team headed into Wednesday night's home conference game against an undermanned Virginia Tech team, who played without three starters for various reasons. The Eagles came in having won six of their last nine games. After 40 minutes of defensive pressure and sharp shooting by senior Troy Bell, the winning ways did not change, as the Eagles extended their winning streak to three games and continued to make their make their final push toward a post season berth with an 87-69 win.
The usually slow-starting Eagles came out firing and, looking to push the ball in the first half, never trailed after taking a 2-0 lead off a Louis Hinnant (six points, four assists) pull-up jump shot 18 seconds into the game. After exchanging baskets for the next eight minutes, Troy Bell (29 points, three assists, three rebounds) continued to make his case for this year's Big East player of the year. He contributed 10 points during a 14-0 run that broke the game open. The margin grew to 15 points for BC (14-9, 7-5).
The lead continued to increase when junior Ryan Sidney (12 points, seven assists, six rebounds) converted two free throws to bring the Eagles to a seemingly comfortable 21-point lead. The Hokies (10-14, 3-8) came storming back with a 7-0 run of their own that cut the deficit to 38-24. After a few more baskets were exchanged, the Eagles headed into the locker room holding a 39-26 advantage at the half.
After halftime, the Hokies continued to help the Eagles with sloppy passing and defensive miscues that allowed the Eagles to take advantage of the undermanned V. Tech squad. BC was able to wear down the Hokies' short bench with pressure defense and an opportunistic fast break offense. Moreover, the Eagles outscored the Hokies by nine on points off of turnovers, which contributed heavily to the demise of their Big East counterpart. "There was some indecision on how they wanted to attack our pressure," said Head Coach Al Skinner. Despite the setbacks, Tech's star junior forward Bryant Matthews was able to score 23 points in the losing cause. No other Hokies player scored in double digits.
In the end, Matthews' scoring contributions were not enough to overcome the turnovers and stellar all-around performances by Bell, Sidney, and freshman Craig Smith (26 points, nine rebounds). Instead, the Eagles combined steady ball movement with uncharacteristically accurate free-throw shooting (81 percent in the second half) to maintain the lead and withstand any scoring spurts that the Hokies managed to put together.
Key contributions also came from Andrew Bryant, who was back in action after missing the win over Miami while attending the funeral for his mother. Bryant continued his near automatic perimeter shooting with three three-pointers for a total of nine points. "He don't need much daylight to squeeze it," said Skinner of Bryant's three-point shooting,
The story in this game, however, was the continued excellence displayed by Troy Bell. With a nine for 13 shooting performance that included hitting six of eight three-point attempts, Bell has continued to climb the all-time scoring charts in the Big East conference. The consistent senior came into the game averaging 29.8 points per game in his last eight games, and yet again failed to let down his fans, including his head coach.
"He's playing the best basketball he's played here. Troy is totally focused. That's what a leader plays like," said Skinner. In fact, Skinner went on to say that Bell could have easily scored 40 points, but Troy exemplified the maturity and unselfishness that have benefited him in his development as a complete player at BC. Instead of hogging all the scoring opportunites, Bell dished the ball to his teammates, making sure all the Eagles were involved in the offense. This balanced attack keyed BC's easy victory.
Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the Red Storm of St. John's. The team will need to continue the inspired play of late, and Skinner has no doubts that his team will be up to the task after a rare week off in between games. The Eagles will definitely need to sustian the momentum it has gained over the past two weeks. Skinner went on to say there is no room for mistakes from here on out. "We've already stumbled. We've already fallen on our faces," he said.