It was far from the strongest showing for either team, but Boston College managed to survive on the wide shoulders of Dennis Clifford. Clifford hit a layup in the lane amongst traffic with 44 seconds to go, to give the Eagles a 58-56 lead and Boston College (6-10, 1-1 ACC) held on for their first Atlantic Coast Conference victory in their conference home opener over Clemson (9-7, 1-1 ACC).
The freshmen center led the Eagles with 15 points and seven rebounds, as Boston College edged the Tigers 59-57 at the Conte Forum. Freshmen guard Lonnie Jackson finished with 14 points for the Eagles, who connected on 50 percent (20-of-40) of their shots for the game.
Point guard Jordan Daniels bounced back from his poor performance against North Carolina Saturday, by recording nine points on three 3-pointers and three assists for the Eagles. Junior guard Matt Humphrey continued his strong play with nine points, as the junior served as the leader off the bench and played more minutes than several Eagle starters.
Andre Young led the way for the Tigers with 12 points, while T.J. Sapp added 11 points and three steals. Center Milton Jennings nearly had a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds but he and fellow big man Devin Booker both failed to tie the game with free throws in the final 10 seconds of play.
Clemson had their way in the paint, as they grabbed 10 more rebounds than the Eagles (32-22) but they struggled to hit their shots. The Tigers missed plenty of open looks as they hit just 38.5 percent (20-52) of their shots in their first ACC loss of the season.
Boston College jumped out to a 10-4 lead at the 16:13 mark of the first half behind two of the team's eight 3-pointers but Clemson would quickly get back in the game. Ten minutes later, the Tigers grabbed their second lead of the game (20-18) when Booker grabbed an offensive rebound and finished with a two-hand dunk. The Eagles responded with a 7-1 run but that wouldn't be enough to claim a halftime lead. With under 10 seconds remaining in the half, Young knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 28-26 lead at the break.
The second half went back and forth with the Tigers holding a slim lead until the Eagles came up with a big run. Trailing 39-32 with 16:15 to go, Boston College outscored Clemson 16-4 over the next 5:30, including an 11-0 spurt to finish the spurt, to gain their first lead of the second half (48-43). Lonnie Jackson keyed the run with the final nine points on two straight 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3-point play.
After Clemson responded with six straight points of their own to grab the lead, neither team would take more than a one-possesion lead for the rest of the game. Clifford's dunk off a backdoor pass from Jackson gave Boston College a 56-54 lead with 2:59 to go but Clemson was able to respond.
Senior guard Tanner Smith forced two Eagles defenders into the air beyond the 3-point arc and drew a shooting foul on John Cahill with 79 seconds to play. After missing the first free throw, Smith knocked down the next two to tie the game at 56. That's when Clifford stepped in; coming off a pick-and-roll, the big man bobbled the pass but managed to catch it and flip the ball in for the game-winner. Both teams would only manage one more, made free throw over the final 44 sloppy seconds of play, as the Eagles moved to 5-5 at home.
Boston College will be back in action Saturday at 3 p.m. EDT when they host Virginia Tech.