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Boston College 84, Bucknell 80: Eagles Overcome Poor Start

CHESTNUT HILL - Oh the weather outside was frightful, and unfortunately, so was Boston College's offense early on.

The Eagles missed their first four shots and found themselves down 8-0 against Bucknell nearly three minutes into the game and trailed by as many as 16 in the first half before pulling within three points at the intermission.

But thanks to gritty second-half play, the Eagles overcame their first half mistakes to post an 84-80 victory over Bucknell on Wednesday night at Conte Forum. The win was Boston College's seventh in a row.

"I thought it would be a great game going in," said Boston College head coach Steve Donahue. "They're a terrific offensive basketball team that's really gelling right now."

The Bison made 30-of-61 shots (49.2%) and am impressive 15-of-29 three pointers (51.7%) in the loss. Bryson Johnson led Bucknell with 25 points, Mike Muscala scored 14 points and Bryan Cohen added 13 points.

"It's also a difficult match for our guys because you don't see teams like that," Donahue said. "We play like that, but very rarely do you see teams at this level play like that. I thought Bucknell, great experience, great poise, big play after big play. I'm just proud of our guys that we answered those punches early and just didn't let it die."

Reggie Jackson scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting for Boston College. Joe Trapani and Josh Southern each had 16 points and Biko Paris added 14 points for the Eagles.

After falling behind 8-0, Josh Southern put Boston College (10-2) on the board with 17:12 left in the half. Danny Rubin then hit back-to-back threes to cut the Bison lead to 13-8 with 15:40 remaining, but Bucknell (6-7) maintained its tenacity to build its lead to 37-21 with 8:21 to play.

"I believe we were over helping at times," Jackson said. "Like coach said, they move the ball like us, they kind of play the same style, so we were overreacting. They're a good team, finding each other. Obviously, they had 17 assists with only seven turnovers, so they were moving the ball well. Everybody was hitting."

However, the Eagles responded with a 14-0 run to put themselves back in striking distance, 37-35, with 4:13 left. The Bison were able to hold off the Eagles run for the remainder of the half and took a 42-39 lead into halftime.

"Honestly, I was just preaching to my guys play-by-play," said Jackson. "I never really knew [the lead] was by 16. I was just telling them let's cut it down maybe by four each TV timeout and just go by that and just try to win each four minutes and eventually we'd be in the game, and it paid off."

Boston College made 14-of-29 field goals (48.3%) and 6-of-14 threes (42.9%) while Bucknell connected on 16-of-33 shots (48.5%) and 7-of-14 threes (50%) in the first half. The Eagles had four turnovers while the Bison had two.

The Eagles took their first lead of the game, 43-42, one minute and twenty seconds into the second half. Bucknell responded by hitting three straight shots from the perimeter to take a 51-45 advantage with 16:15 remaining and built the lead to seven, 57-50, at the 13 minute mark.

Yet a three-point play from Jackson and a Jackson three pointer, followed by a free throw from Corey Raji and another Jackson three, put the Eagles back in the drivers seat, 60-59, with 9:59 left.

"I guess it was shots I was getting open," said Jackson, who scored 15 points in the second half. "Coming out of a timeout, Josh grabbed me to the sideline and whispered in my ear 'Reggie, this is the time you have to take over and really look for your shots.' I took those words of advice from him and started getting a few looks with my first three that I took, and it went down. After that, I started feeling good and got in a nice rhythm."

Paris hit a three with 8:36 to put BC up 65-62, which started a 9-8 Eagles run that gave BC a 74-70 edge with under three minutes to play. Two free throws from Southern made it a 76-70 game, but Bucknell back-to-back threes to tie the game with 2:36.

But once again, Paris buried a three to put BC up by three with two minutes remaining. Jackson hit one of two free throws with 56.5 seconds left to put the Eagles up 80-76, but  Darryl Shazier (8 points, 10 rebounds) nailed a jumper to bring Bucknell within two.

Following a BC timeout, Jackson worked down the clock before passing to Raji who found Southern under the basket. Southern hesitated, but put the shot up for an easy layup, giving BC a four point cushion with 15.7 left.

Bucknell rushed the ball up the court and found Johnson, who took the ball to the basket for a layup with 8.3 ticks to go. After another timeout, Willman fouled Paris with 6.1 seconds left. Paris made both free throws, putting BC up 84-80. Shazier missed a three with less that three seconds left, sealing the Boston College victory.

The Eagles made 30-of-63 field goals (47.6%) and 12-of-30 threes (40%) in the game. In addition, Boston College made 12-of-15 free throws and finished with 36 rebounds, 19 assists and five turnovers.

"We're playing great collectively," Jackson said. "Like coach said, as long as we care that it gets done and not how it gets done or who does it, things are going to go well. That's how we've been playing."

Boston College brings its seven-game winning streak south to Kingston, Rhode Island to take on URI at the Ryan Center on Wednesday, December 29th at 7 p.m. EST.