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Eagles Fly Past Scarlet Knights, 60-55

Kenny Walls takes a shot as Rutgers' Herve Lamizana defends during the first half.

Kenny Walls takes a shot as Rutgers' Herve Lamizana defends during the first half.

March 6, 2002

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By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Boston College coach Al Skinner read the halftime box of Wednesday's Big East tournament opener against Rutgers and shuddered a bit.

Troy Bell was 1-for-10. So was Kenny Walls. The Eagles, on the NCAA tournament bubble, had shot a miserable 5-for-33 (15.2 percent), the lowest half ever in Big East tournament history. Boston College trailed by 11 points, the largest halftime deficit any team had ever overcome in tournament history.

"I was wondering what kind of coaching job I was doing," Skinner said. "I told that to my assistants.

"I was hoping we wouldn't play that kind of half again."

They didn't.

The Eagles (20-10) rallied to defeat Rutgers 60-55 and advanced to the Big East quarterfinals. On Thursday, the Eagles play Pittsburgh in a rematch of last year's championship game, which BC won 79-57.

Rutgers (18-12) led 33-22 at halftime after running off 13 straight points and limiting the Eagles to two points in the final 7:21 of the half.

But the Eagles climbed back in the game. Bell and Walls made quick baskets. Then Ryan Sidney, who had a game-high 20 points, made two straight baskets, and consecutive 3-pointers by Walls put BC in front at 38-37.

Rutgers battled back to lead 49-46 before Sidney's 3-pointer tied the score with 4:16 to play. Sidney then made another 3-pointer, and free throws by Bell and Uka Agbai put BC in front to stay.

Bell had 16 points but made just four of 20 shots. Walls had 11 on 4-of-17 shooting as BC shot 27.3 percent for the game.

Jerome Coleman led Rutgers with 17 points, and Rashod Kent had 11 but missed three of his 13 free throws. The Scarlet Knights were 17-for-31 from the foul line.

Rutgers coach Gary Waters gave BC credit.

"Experience paid off for them," he said. "The first five minutes of the second half was key. We missed four free throws while they made their first three shots.

"If we had made our free throws, no doubt in my mind we would win."

Skinner thought the win clinched an NCAA berth for the Eagles.

"I definitely feel like we're in," he said.

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