Corey Raji scored nine points in the second half and finished with 11 points in his return as Boston College defeated Maryland 79-75 in the ACC opener for both teams at the Comcast Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles improved to 5-1 in ACC openers with the win and are now 3-1 when facing Maryland in conference openers. The win was Boston College's fifth in a row and its seventh in the last eight games.
"That was a great college basketball game and we were fortunate enough to play in it," Boston College head coach Steve Donahue said. "I think both teams played really well. I am most proud of our guy's perseverance, where Maryland had chances to put us away. We came through with big shot after big shot. The last 30 seconds we stopped them and this helped us win today"
Biko Paris led Boston College with a career-high 22 points and Reggie Jackson finished with 16 points. Joe Trapani added ten points, Danny Rubin scored nine points and Josh Southern had six points for the Eagles.
"I mean, [Maryland] ran a really nice press, but they were slow getting back on defense so we had a lot of wide open shots," Paris said.
Jordan Williams scored a career-high 27 points to pace Maryland. Terrell Stoglin and Dino Gregory each scored 14 points, Sean Mosley finished with seven points and Cliff Tucker added six points for the Terps.
"Any loss is disappointing, but to start ACC play with a loss is tough," said Williams. "We are going to work very hard the next few days in practice and move on. We aren't going to focus on this loss any more than we have to. Good teams can rebound after tough losses, and that's exactly what we want to do."
Boston College (8-2, 1-0 ACC) opened the game on a 7-4 run after four minutes, but Maryland (7-4, 0-1 ACC) battled back to tie the game. Both teams traded leads down the stretch in the first half before the Terrapins began to pull away. With 3:54 remaining before halftime, Maryland led by five, 33-28, and ultimately took a 41-39 lead into the intermission.
"We were in foul trouble in the first half," said Donahue. "Not having Corey and Josh out there for long stretches hurt us. Once we were able to establish and get our core guys in there, we were able to rebound the ball better. They are a very difficult team to keep off the boards. I thought we did a decent job staying in front of them, and I thought Maryland made a lot of hard shots. I thought Maryland played very well offensively as well."
Trapani scored his 1,000th career point with a two-point jump shot with 15:19 left in the firs half. Trapani became the 38th player in Boston College history to reach the milestone, joining teammate Corey Raji, who achieved the feat earlier this season. For his career, Trapani now has 1,009 points.
Williams scored 13 points, Stoglin had 10 points and Gregory added eight points in the first half for Maryland. Tucker scored four points and both Mosley and Haukur Palsson scored three for the Terrapins.
Paris scored 11 points to lead Boston College at halftime. Rubin had nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range and Jackson added seven points. Trapani and Southern each had four points and Raji and Dallas Elmore (five points) both scored two points for the Eagles.
"We didn't really change that much," Paris said about Boston College's adjustments entering the final half. "Coach was stressing to Reggie [Jackson] and I, and Dallas [Elmore] and the rest of the guards to help get down there and take out some layers, trap them, and clean it up. So that's what we really focused on doing, just helping our big guys out with the offensive rebounding situation."
The Eagles regained the lead early in the second half, taking a 48-47 advantage on Paris' three with 17:18 to go. It was short-lived, though, as a dunk by Williams with 17:01 left put the Terps up 49-48. Paris hit another layup to give BC a 50-49 lead with 16:53 to play, but the Terps pulled away again to take a 55-53 lead with 12:03 remaining.
Williams hit a jumper to put Maryland up 57-53 with 11:30 left, but Raji connected on his first three of the game to bring BC within one at 57-56 with 11:15 to go.
Dino Gregory hit another jumper with 10:54 left to build the Terps lead back to three at 59-56. Elmore hit one of two free throws with 10:37 left before Paris nailed a three with 10:37 remaining to put the Eagles up 60-59.
Maryland was able to silence the Eagles, holding Boston College scoreless for three minutes and 39 seconds and taking a 67-64 lead with 7:11 left. Paris ended the drought with 4:45 left, hitting a three to tie the game at 67 with less than four minutes to play.
Trailing by one, 73-72, with 2:47 left, the Eagles committed a turnover that led to a layup from Bowie and a 75-72 Terps lead. After a Boston College timeout, Trapani was fouled on a dunk attempt and made both free throws.
Cliff Tucker had a chance to give the Terps some breathing room, but he missed two free throws. Raji converted on the opportunity, making a layup to tie the game at 75 for the 11th time in the game.
Stoglin missed another free throw, the Terps' third miss in a row, giving BC a shot to take the lead with under a minute to play. Raji made Maryland pay once again, hitting a three with 40 seconds remaining to put the Eagles up 78-75.
Tucker turned the ball over, forcing Maryland to foul Paris, who missed the one-and-one free throw attempt. Stoglin missed a game-tying three pointer with 20 seconds to play, and Raji got the rebound and was fouled.
"He has been so great since I have arrived on campus," Donahue said of Raji. "I can't say enough good things about him. He has been such a good influence on and off the court which has made my transition very easy. He has lost a ton of weight to get himself in great shape, and he has worked religiously during the off-season on his shot."
Raji made the first free throw but missed the next, but Maryland was unable to convert on the other end, sealing the Eagles' win.
"Anytime a game gets like that in the last few minutes, things happen," said Maryland head coach Gary Williams. "We missed some shots, they made their shots. It's the first 38 minutes a lot of times that determines getting into that situation. Give Boston College credit, they did a good job of isolating some matchups. It hurt us a little bit. We didn't do a good enough job with our offense, or our defense, in certain periods of the game.
"We missed a couple of free throws, took a couple of bad shots and were not patient on offense," Williams said. "We went away from what we wanted to do on offense when they took the 3-point lead and we didn't execute well."
Boston College finished the game 28-for-58 from the field (13-of-29 three pointers) while Maryland made 32-of-65 shots and 3-of-17 threes.
"I think the reason we are shooting three-pointers better is because our guys work really hard and put in extra time outside of practice," said Donahue. "I can't remember the last time I told one of my guys they had taken a bad shot because I don't want to put that thought in their heads. We want to teach them as much as we can about playing the game, but I don't want them to ever think they shouldn't shoot the basketball."
The Eagles had 31 rebounds, 16 assists, five steals, 14 turnovers and 16 fouls and the Terrapins finished with 34 rebounds, 19 assists, six steals, nine turnovers and 14 fouls.
Boston College is off until Sunday, December 19th when it hosts Bryant at Conte Forum at 3 p.m. EST. The Eagles then host Bucknell on December 22nd before heading out for two straight road games against Rhode Island (Dec. 29th) and South Carolina (Jan. 1st).