"We're not going to get overexcited," coach Al Skinner said calmly after the biggest win of his tenure, a 65-63 victory over No. 9 Syracuse on Wednesday night. "They were happy, but it's not like we won the Big East title or anything like that.
"We were going through some tough times here, and we're trying to make up for tough times. We kind of feel like this is the way it should be. I know it sounds a little arrogant, but this is what we worked for. It's been a long journey for a lot of guys."
Troy Bell had three of his eight steals in the final minute, one of them to set up Xavier Singletary's tie-breaking layup with 39.6 seconds left and send BC (17-2, 8-1 conference) off to its best Big East start ever. It's the best overall start for the Eagles since the 1966-67 squad coached by Bob Cousy went 23-2 before losing in the NCAA tournament.
Damone Brown scored 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting and Preston Shumpert had 20 points for Syracuse (18-4, 6-3). The Orangemen have lost three consecutive conference games on the road while eking out victories over Georgetown and North Carolina State.
"You keep playing these games and sooner or later one of them's going to get away from you," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Sooner or later, there's going to be a play you don't make."
It was tied at 58 with 5seconds left when Bell tipped the ball away from Allen Griffin to Ryan Sidney for a steal. Singletary made a nice baseline move at the other end for a layup that gave BC a 60-58 lead.
The Eagles' swarming defense forced another turnover when a triple-teamed Brown lost control of his dribble. During a scramble for the loose ball, BC managed to call timeout with 26.4 seconds left. Kenny Harley then hit two free throws to give BC a 62-58 lead.
The victory seemed secure until Griffin hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left to make it 64-63. Jonathan Beerbohm hit the second of two free throws, then Bell again tipped away another pass in the backcourt to seal it.
After the last few seconds ticked off, the full house of 8,606 poured out of the stands to celebrate the Eagles first victory over Syracuse since 1997 and Skinner's first ever in seven tries at BC and Rhode Island.
The victory gave Boston College as many wins this year as it did in its last two seasons combined.
"Last year, we were last in the Big East," Bell said. "This year, we're first."
Bell and Harley scored 12 points apiece to lead a Boston College team that shot just .383 from the floor but forced 16 turnovers while committing just eight.
Shumpert, the Big East's fourth-leading scorer, scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. He shot only 1-for-7 in the first half and had four turnovers by the break, when Boston College led 34-23.
BC scored the first six points, and then had another 6-0 run to take a 12-4 lead. The Eagles led by 10 when a pair of steals and a pair of baskets by Sidney gave them their biggest lead of the first half, 34-20, with 2:49 left.
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