7:00 PM ET, January 28, 2004
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Carl Krauser wasn't happy spending nearly half the game on the bench in foul trouble, so he was determined to affect the outcome when he returned. Good thing for Pittsburgh he was.Krauser had five key points down the stretch and teamed with Chris Taft to lead a pair of pivotal runs that allowed the No. 7 Panthers to hold off Boston College 68-58 Wednesday night.The Panthers (20-1, 6-1 in Big East) ran their Division I-leading home-court winning streak to 38 games, but needed a game-ending 14-3 run to do so after squandering a 12-point lead. Before that, they rebounded from an eight-point deficit with a 14-0 run."I wasn't nervous," Julius Page said. "We were behind only one point with three minutes to go and we still had a lot of time left. You can't be nervous because you've still got to play."The Panthers, coming off an impressive 21-point victory at No. 20 Syracuse, trailed in the second half for the third straight home game and their fourth in their last five overall, yet still stayed unbeaten at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers are 32-0 there after winning their final six at Fitzgerald Field House."We expected a tough, physical matchup and that's what we got," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said.Jaron Brown had 18 points, with Taft adding 14, Krauser 12 and Julius Page 10. Uka Agbai led Boston College (13-6, 2-4) with 17. Craig Smith, the Eagles' top scorer with an 18.4 average, had 16 but was held to six in the second half. Smith had scored 20 or more points in seven of nine games.Unlike Page, Krauser was nervous while sitting out 19 minutes -- not because Pitt's point guard and leading scorer was worried about the outcome, but because he dislikes being out of the game so long."My role is to make sure we win," Krauser said. "I was trying to put the ball in the hole at the end and help us win. No player wants to sit out that long because you can't get a rhythm going."Boston College's problem was it lost its rhythm during two critical stretches -- the beginning and end of the second half.Taft had six points during the midgame run that began with Antonio Graves' basket just before halftime and ended with Pitt scoring the first 12 points of the second half to open a 39-27 lead. Graves had four points and five assists while filling in for Krauser."That run at the start of the second half gave them a cushion, and we were playing catch-up after that," Eagles coach Al Skinner said. "We didn't play well on offense or defense, and the first four minutes of the second half cost us the ballgame."Boston College got back in the game with 8-0 and 6-0 runs to regain the lead at 55-54 on Jermaine Watson's tap-in with 3:47 remaining after falling behind 46-34. But Krauser's runner off the glass restored Pitt's lead at 56-55 with 3:10 remaining, and he converted a three-point play with 1:37 left following a series of turnovers and missed shots to make it 59-55.Brown, who missed five consecutive free throws until then, and Taft hit two free throws each on successive possessions, and Brown's steal and dunk finished off a stretch of 11 straight points during the 14-3 run. Pitt made eight of its final nine free throws after being 4-of-9 at the foul line with less than three minutes remaining."Pittsburgh is experienced, and they got the shots they wanted in the final two minutes," Skinner said. "We didn't execute the way we needed to late."The finish was much like that of the Panthers' 59-49 victory over Rutgers in their previous home game Jan. 17, when they trailed late before going on a game-ending 10-0 run.Pitt, the first Division I team to reach 20 victories this season, won its fourth straight over Boston College dating to a loss in the Big East tournament final in 2001."A lot of teams are going to win 20," Page said. "What's important is who's holding up that trophy at the end of the season."