Feb 1, 2003
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Eagles Forward Delivers a Win From the Heart
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
STORRS, Conn. - Boston College ended a long road losing streak about as impressively as it could have.
The Eagles won at Connecticut for the first time since 1987, beating the 14th-ranked Huskies 95-71 Saturday - their worst loss ever at Gampel Pavilion.
This wasn't just a road win. This was road kill.
Boston College was up 28 points at halftime and Connecticut never challenged over the final 20 minutes.
Troy Bell, who led the Eagles with 26 points, was 6 years old the last time his school won at Connecticut.
"I knew it was a while, because when we won my sophomore year I think it had been like 40 games or something like that," Bell said, exaggerating the 23-game overall losing streak to UConn a bit. "But we've been close the last two times we were here. We blew a 10-point lead with like two minutes to go last year, so we were confident coming in.
"All along I knew we had the potential to do this. We just had to kind of find our identity and find out what works well for us."
What works well is coming out and taking a 13-1 lead in the opening five minutes, going up by 23 in the first 10 minutes and effectively ending the game by halftime.
"This game was over at the 13:38 mark. I didn't know it but apparently our kids did," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "They imposed their will on us and I'm disgusted with the way we played. You have two choices when a team bogarts you, you can stand up to it or you can take it. We took it."
Boston College (10-8, 3-4 Big East) won for the fourth time in five games overall and beat the Huskies for the second time in 28 meetings.
"I don't deal with that," Eagles coach Al Skinner said of the losing streak. "UConn has been and is a very good basketball team. Since I've been at BC we haven't always been that good. They've always been better than us.
"I don't think I'll allow my kids to get too caught up in the streak. That's for you guys. It's not an issue for me and I don't make it an issue for my team."
The Eagles led 53-25 at halftime, the first time Connecticut (13-4, 4-2) trailed by more than nine points after 20 minutes in Gampel.
"We figured if we could just start pressing and kind of get everyone's minds and legs into the game, then we could get a better start, because in the second half we've beaten everybody," Bell said of the Eagles' penchant for comebacks this season. "Once we figured out how to get the first-half lead, we're pretty good."
Bell, who leads the conference in scoring and is seventh in the country at 23.7 points a game, had 19 in the first half as the Eagles shot 57 percent, including 7-of-14 from 3-point range, and dominated the boards 23-14 to build the big lead.
"They dominated us in every aspect of the game," Calhoun said. "We were awful, we really were and Al's kids had everything to do with that."
Connecticut entered the game allowing an average of 69.6 points and the Eagles were only 17 short of that at halftime. The most points the Huskies had allowed in a game this season came in a 97-85 win over Wagner on Dec. 7, and Boston College got that many by taking an 86-57 lead on a shot down low by Craig Smith with 6:33 to play.
Smith had 20 points for Boston College, while Ryan Sidney had 17 and Andrew Bryant 14, all but two on 3-pointers.
The Eagles shot 50.7 percent, the fifth time in the last six games they've been above 50 percent.
Ben Gordon had 15 points for the Huskies, who shot 41.8 percent but went 1-for-15 from 3-point range.
"Tough isn't the word," Gordon said about the loss. "This was a disgraceful effort. We didn't show up today. Those guys on the court weren't Connecticut. It was 11-1 and the game was out of our grasp."
Boston College upsets UConn with a convincing 95-71 victory.|
Boston College's last win at Connecticut was a 66-60 victory at the Hartford Civic Center on Feb. 26, 1987. The Eagles were 0-5 in Gampel, which opened for the 1989-90 season. Connecticut's worst previous loss in Gampel was on Feb. 18, 1995, 96-73 to Villanova in the Huskies' first game ever as a No. 1-ranked team.
"This is crazy," Connecticut senior guard Tony Robertson said. "We shouldn't lose to any team in our building by 30 points. If they play their hearts out and win, OK. We lost by 30, come on."
Boston College led the entire game and was up 17-3 before Connecticut made its first field goal, with 14:14 to play in the half.
Bryant, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to give Boston College a 29-9 lead with 10:31 left, and Bell hit one from long range 17 seconds later to make it 32-9. That was Boston College's sixth 3 of the game; the team entered averaging 5.6.
Bryant's final 3 came with 27 seconds left in the first half and made it 53-22.
Connecticut rallied earlier this season from a 30-9 halftime deficit to Massachusetts for a 59-48 victory, but Boston College never allowed anything close to a big run in the second half.
"Those other holes, like UMass, were as much us," Calhoun said. "Today was all Boston College. I won't forget this one. Teams get beat. It even happens to the best. But getting your will taken away is a tough thing to take."