PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Good thing for Boston College that backup
forward Akida McLain was excited about playing what looked to be an
easy-as-could-be game at Duquesne. Until Craig Smith took over late
in the game, McLain looked to be the only Eagles player very
enthused about playing.
Smith scored 21 points and held off a late Duquesne comeback bid
by scoring on three consecutive Boston College possessions, leading
the No. 13 Eagles to an 81-69 victory Tuesday night aided by
McLain's 17 points.
Sean Marshall added 13 points and Jared Dudley and reserve
Tyrese Rice had 10 each to help the Eagles (9-2) win their third in
a row, but it was McLain who got them going during a 16-4 run
midway through the second half that built their lead to 15 points
"The nice thing for us was the way Akida played," coach Al
Skinner said. "This was clearly the best game in his career. He's
been doing it in practice, but this was the first time he got it
done consistently in a game. We hope it's something we can depend
on and come to expect it from him."
McLain played high school basketball in suburban Pittsburgh and
was cheered on by 30 family members and friends, who made
themselves heard in the crowd of 1,791. His strong play boosted the
Eagles on a night their poor free throw shooting -- 11 of 25 --
prevented them from pulling away until late despite their obvious
advantages in size and talent.
"There wasn't much to talk about there," Skinner of the poor
shooting by a team that shoots nearly 70 percent from the foul line
for the season. "It's all about practicing and concentration, and
when one or two guys start missing early it doesn't seem like
anybody can make them."
McLain, a 6-foot-8 sophomore suspended for the first seven games
this season for violating team rules, nearly equaled his previous
season total of 19 points. McLain's putback made it 52-45 after
Dudley had a tipin and a driving layup, and McLain later added two
free throws, a layup and a three-point play.
"I'm starting to get into a rhythm," McLain said. "We're one
of the bigger games that Duquesne plays and they played with a lot
of energy, but we pulled it out."
Smith, who scored 30 points against Duquesne last season in an
88-70 victory, scored nine of his 11 points in the second half in
the final 5:33 of play. His three consecutive baskets came in a
span of 1 minutes, 14 seconds and made it 74-60 with 3:37
"We started to run some stuff for him," Skinner said.
Duquesne (2-7), which lost earlier this season to Arkansas-Pine
Bluff at home by nine points and to Youngstown State by 21, led
late in the first half at 28-26 and was down by only three points
before McLain gave the Eagles a big lift.
McLain had scored in double figures only once previously this
season, 11 against Texas Southern, and scored four each in the
other two games he played. He averaged 3.9 points last season.
"I thought the kid played great," Duquesne coach Danny Nee
Bryant McAllister led Duquesne with 17 points, but was held
without a field goal while scoring all six of his points in the
second half at the foul line. Keith Gayden added 15, DeVario Hudson
14 and Aaron Jackson 10 for Duquesne.
"We played them hard and played them well," Hudson said. "We
just ran out of gas."
Boston College played in Pittsburgh almost annually during its
years in the Big East, but this was its first game at Duquesne
since Jan. 27, 1972. The Dukes played an Atlantic Coast Conference
team at home for only the second time since they opened the A.J.
Palumbo Center in 1988; the other game was an upset of then-No. 10
Florida State in 1992.
Duquesne has lost 17 consecutive games against ranked opponents
since beating Xavier on Jan. 25, 1997.
The Dukes played without senior guard Jack Higgins for
unspecified reasons. Higgins, who averages 9.3 points, was held out
by coach Nee but apparently was not suspended. It is uncertain
whether he will return this season.