March 13, 2003
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By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK - Craig Smith went barreling to the basket against St. John's looking like a defensive tackle heading for the quarterback.
The Boston College freshman has football size at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds - and uses all of it.
"I have a big body and can play a power game," he said.
Smith scored 10 of his 33 points in overtime Thursday, leading Boston College to an 82-75 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.
"I never played high school football, but I got a couple of offers to college," he said. "I didn't want football. Basketball is my whole life."
He gave the Eagles life in the Big East tournament, tying the game on a three-point play with 28.8 seconds to play in regulation and then dominating the five-minute overtime.
"I took it upon myself to take over," he said. "I didn't want to go back to Boston. I wanted to stay here in New York."
He got his wish and Boston College (18-10) advanced to the semifinals against the winner of the game between Pittsburgh and Providence.
Eagles coach Al Skinner likes Smith's size.
"He's an inside presence," Skinner said. "He has the opportunity to score inside and has a lot of skills."
This was Boston College's third win this season against St. John's, and it did not come easily. The Red Storm (16-13) had won four straight and the Eagles were coming off a 37-point loss to Connecticut.
"It's not often you lose to one team three times in a season," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "We did."
Boston College had a five-point lead with two minutes to play in regulation but consecutive mistakes by Troy Bell, the conference player of the year, allowed St. John's to get back in it.
First, Bell had the ball stolen by Willie Shaw, who made a three-point play. Then Hatten converted a pair of foul shots after a turnover by Bell, giving St. John's the lead at 66-64.
A free throw by Grady Reynolds, following a foul by Bell, made it 67-64, setting the stage for Smith's three-point play and the extra period.
After Smith's basket and free throw tied the game at 67, St. John's played for a last shot. Marcus Hatten, who led the Red Storm with 19 points, ran the clock down but missed, forcing overtime.
"When I shot the ball, it was too hard," Hatten said. "It was one-on-one, me and Bell. I thought I got the best shot possible."
After Ryan Sidney gave Boston College the overtime lead, Smith took over, scoring eight straight points for the Eagles. After Kyle Cuffe tied the score for St. John's at 73 with 90 seconds left, Smith hit a basket and then converted two free throws to give the Eagles a four-point lead.
Hatten's two free throws made it 77-75 with 36.3 seconds remaining, but St. John's didn't score again.