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Smith's free throws key as BC escapes against Pacific

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A frantic comeback. A few clutch free
throws. A couple of overtimes. The only thing missing was an upset,
though it was hard to argue with Boston College's formula for
revving up the madness in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Baldheaded BC got the first tournament thriller out of the way
in an early game Thursday, a double-overtime 88-76 victory that
derailed scrappy Pacific and the Maraker Express.

"People look forward to having the underdog come up and win,"
BC guard Louis Hinnant said. "Fortunately, we didn't allow that to
happen."

Not for lack of trying.

The final overtime was anticlimactic, but the fourth-seeded
Eagles (27-7) made this one very interesting for the first 45
minutes against the 13th-seeded Tigers and their star, Christian
Maraker.

The Eagles trailed by six early in the first overtime. They
rallied and needed a pair of free throws from Craig Smith, a 66
percent shooter, with 4.3 seconds left to tie it.

Earlier, with 9 seconds left in regulation, Maraker took
advantage of a defensive breakdown and hit an open 3-pointer to tie
the game at 65 -- a shot the Pacific fans were cheering even before
it left his hands. That capped a Pacific comeback from 13 points
down.

"I thought we have a veteran club and we made a very big
mistake there," coach Al Skinner said. "We were fortunate to
overcome that."

On Saturday, Boston College will play Montana in the
second round of the Minneapolis regional.

The Eagles advanced by holding Maraker (30 points, nine
rebounds) scoreless in the two overtimes, preventing the Tigers
(24-8) from advancing to the second round for the third straight
year.

"I thought this was the first game all year we deserved to win
and didn't," Pacific coach Bob Thomason said.

It certainly wasn't hard to see the Eagles sweat their way
through this one.

Their heads were glistening, due to Hinnant's suggestion -- made
in jest -- that the Eagles shave their heads before the game.
Surprisingly, the idea caught on.

"I really love my hair, but I had to do it," Hinnant said.
"The rest of the team did it and I can't let my teammates down."

Next, the Eagles will work on Dudley, the dreadlocked forward
who was the only teammate not to submit to the razor.

"Him putting so many years into grooming that style, I don't
think he's going to cut it," Hinnant said.

Dudley had 23 points, including a 3-pointer that, umm, shaved
BC's deficit to 74-72 in the first overtime.

Smith led the Eagles with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Tyrese Rice
opened the second overtime with an alley-oop pass to Sean Williams
for a dunk, then followed with a 3-pointer -- his only bucket of the
game -- to help Boston College start pulling away.

"We were fortunate to have a number of individuals on this team
who want the ball, and when they get the ball in their area,
they're going to take it," Skinner said.

Pacific had a couple nice looks early in the second overtime,
but Maraker and Johnny Gray each had 3-pointers rim out. By the
time the Big West Conference champs scored, they were trailing by
nine with 1:45 left -- playing out the string in an otherwise taut,
exciting game.

The Eagles were none too pleased about being sent on a
2,300-mile trek to Utah to play a game that started at 10:40 a.m.
local time against a team that had knocked off Pitt and Providence
in the opening round of the last two tournaments.

And for a few moments, it looked like the runners-up in last
weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference tourney were headed for a long
trip home.

Mike Webb opened the first overtime with a pair of 3-pointers to
put Pacific ahead 71-65. BC pulled within two, but Gray (16 points)
answered with another 3 to make it 74-69. After Dudley's 3, Michael
White barely grazed the rim on Pacific's next possession. Then, the
Eagles worked it to Smith, who drew some minor contact inside
against Maraker and went to the line for the tying free throws.

Thomason hated to see the game decided like that.

"I don't want to get fined or anything, but it's a call you
don't see much in college basketball," he said.

As the second overtime wore on and it became clear this would be
Maraker's last college game, the small Pacific fan base got its
point across -- yelling "overrated" to the BC players who had to
work hard against the team from Stockton, Calif.

Dudley just looked over and laughed, though the point had been
made. The Eagles failed to take control of the game until the very
end against a team that was physically outmatched.

"I think collectively, we got together and understood this
could be our last few minutes," Hinnant said. "We just tried to
give whatever we had left."