Lonnie Jackson's six 3-pointers and a raucous, sold-out Conte Forum weren't enough for Boston College to beat undefeated Syracuse on Monday night.
BC had as large as an 8-point lead with 14:40 to go in the second half, but Syracuse went on a 23-6 scoring rampage to seal the game. A team that collected 31.1 rebounds per game--ranked 331st in the nation in that category--only faltered late in the game.
Eagles head coach Steve Donahue acknowledged his team's progress on defense after nearly upsetting the No. 2 team in the country.
"We've done a good job with our core [defensive] principles over the last month," he said. "We turned a corner with this group."
Donahue, who has faced scrutiny and negativity from fans and supporters the past month for a poor first half of the season, remarked that his team played with energy and passion, words that legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim even echoed after the game.
"They played very well defensively," Boeheim, the second winningest basketball coach of all time, said. "We couldn't find the guy that shot the ball, and he [Lonnie Jackson] is a tremendous shooter."
SU's Jerami Grant, who had 16 points and eight rebounds, had a monstrous put-back dunk after Olivier Hanlan drew a foul to bring the Eagles within seven with five minutes to play. Hanlan was 9-for-10 from the free throw line, while big-man Ryan Anderson went 6-for-13.
The potent duo of Anderson and Hanlan combined for 27 of BC's points, but it was Jackson who really found his groove.
The junior guard dropped 18 points--a season-high--off of six 3-pointers. Two were made within a minute of each other in the second half to tie BC with the Orange at 37, and a Joe Rahon 3-pointer from the corner gave the Eagles their first lead of the game since the first half.
Grant's dunk, though, proved to be a turning point. BC failed to get within more than seven points afterwards, and SU's Tyler Ennis drained a pair of free throws with 34 seconds to go to pull the Orange away for good.
Said Boeheim: "I think Grant's dunk will be on SportsCenter tonight."
BC struggled in the paint against a bigger SU interior defense, but managed to out-rebound the Orange on defense 17-14. Dennis Clifford was scratched prior to the start of the game after "tweaking his ankle during warm-ups," according to Donahue.
Jackson and Rahon went a combined 9-for-15 from three, and helped to build the 8-point lead that sent Conte Forum into a frenzy early in the second half.
BC sold out a men's basketball game for the first time since Feb. 19, 2012 against Duke. The game garnered an attendance of roughly 8,600.
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