Boston College knocks off Providence, 62-57, in NIT opener

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Boston College Eagles knew it would take a grind to end a March hex in a hostile house.

BC captured its first NIT victory since 2011 with a slugfest 62-57 win over former Big East rival Providence College before 6,507 vociferous partisans on Tuesday night at the Amica Mutual Pavilion.

BC shot 41.4% from the field with five trifectas, 35 rebounds and 10 assists. Guard Claudell Harris led four BC players in double figures with 17 points. Quinten Post was in foul trouble in both halves and finished with 12 points. Guard Jayden Pierre led PC with 21 points.

“We talked about it before the game and we need to embrace it and embrace each other” said BC coach Earl Grant. “We need to embrace the moment because we knew this place was going to be loud.”

BC improved to 20-15 and will face the winner on Wednesday night’s match between Princeton (21-13) and UNLV (19-12) in the Round of 16. The Friars ended their season at 21-14.

“We just came out of a quick turnaround in the ACC tournament with three games in three days,” said Grant. “This is really not a quick turnaround and we will have a day or two to prepare and come up with the best plan for our next opponent.”

The Friars’ chances were compromised before the opening tap when it was announced that their leading scorer, junior guard Devin Carter (ankle), and freshman wing Rich Barron (thigh), were sidelined with injuries. Carter, who transferred from South Carolina, averaged 19.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and was a first team All-Big East selection.

“We prepared for him (Carter) the first day and we kept preparing for him,” said Grant. “If he played, we would have to be ready and if he didn’t play, we would have to be ready because we wanted to win the game.”

Both teams needed a few trips up the floor to overcome their NIT jitters. BC went up 8-4 on a turnover turned layup by Mason Madsen at 15:17. Friars’ forward Josh Oduro (12 points) countered with a pair to fallaway jumpers over Post to make it 8-8 at the first media timeout.

PC graduate guard Ticket Gaines drained three free throws and converted a turnover into a dunk during an 8-4 spurt to put the Friars up 16-12 with 11:19 to play. Madsen made a pull-up jumper in the paint and Post tip in a missed Donald Hand floater to tie the game 16-16, but Providence led 23-19 at the third media timeout.

BC ran into trouble when Post picked up his third foul at 5:51 and had to exit the floor. The Eagles survived down the stretch without their pivotman and led 31-30 at the half.

“I am very frustrated we didn’t do more with him on the bench,” said PC first-year coach Kim English. “They did a really good job when he was out and we missed some good looks.”

The second half began with a surge of energy that was offset by poor execution and excessive turnovers from both camps. The score was tied 40-40 when a timeout was called with 13:10 to play.

The score was tied 44-44 when Post picked up his fourth foul with 7:41 on the clock. Gaines made it count by making both ends of a one and one to put the Friars up by a pair. Elijah Strong, who replaced Post, hit a jumper and two free throws put BC up 53-50 at the final media timeout.

“Elijah got in when we had a couple of guys in foul trouble and he helped us a lot,” said Grant. “Against Clemson we didn’t have Post at all and he played 28 minutes.”

Pierre beat the shot clock from the perimeter to tie the game 55-55 with 2:37 to play. BC called a timeout and Post came back in the game. Harris hit a fallaway from the top of the key to put BC up 60-57 with 47.9 to play. McGlockton iced the game with a put back.

“It felt great to see that fall,” said Harris. “It was a big shot for the team and put us up three with less than a minute to go. In a game like that when it is back and forth and both teams are very defensive minded, big shots like that really boosts your team up.”

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