Feb. 4, 2012
ATLANTA (AP) – Finally, after six tries, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory has his first victory at Philips Arena.
The offensively-challenged game wasn’t pretty to watch, but Gregory was hardly concerned after his team held off Boston College.
“I thought our guys’ effort for 40 minutes today was tremendous,” he said. “You saw a glimpse of their scrappiness and intensity level that we now need to continue to play with.”
Glen Rice Jr. scored three points in the final minute, Brandon Reed hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds and Georgia Tech snapped a six-game losing streak with a 51-47 victory over Boston College on Saturday.
In a matchup of two struggling teams, Rice finished with 11 points and Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller each added 10 for the Yellow Jackets (9-14, 2-7 Atlantic Coast Conference). Georgia Tech is playing most of its home games this season at Philips Arena while a new basketball venue is being built on campus.
Matt Humphrey scored 15 points and Lonnie Jackson had 10 for the Eagles (7-16, 2-7 ACC), who have dropped six straight and nine of 11.
“We really wanted to pull that one out,” Humphrey said. “We were right there for our last three games. That last 4- to 5-minute stretch, we didn’t get it done. We’re trying to get over the hump.”
The Yellow Jackets never trailed after Holsey’s inside runner made it 46-44 with 2:55 remaining, but Boston College pulled within one at 48-47 on Jackson’s two free throws with 16.4 seconds to go.
Rice put back his own missed runner to make it 48-45 with 48.9 seconds left and added a free throw with three-tenths of a second remaining.
Georgia Tech and Boston College showed why they are the ACC’s lowest-scoring teams.
After Dennis Clifford’s layup gave them a 12-11 lead at the 10:39 mark, the Eagles went scoreless over their next 15 possessions until Humphrey’s buzzer-beating 3 left Georgia Tech up 20-19 at halftime.
The difficult stretch disappointed Boston College coach Steve Donahue as the Yellow Jackets’ defense had no trouble beating screens.
“We kept the ball on one side of the floor, over-dribbled and tried to make plays that weren’t there,” Donahue said. “That’s what happens when you turn the ball over 10 times in the first half. You shoot a better percentage when you are open.”
Boston College, which had won three of four in the series, led three times the second half, the last at 36-34 on Ryan Anderson’s jumper at the 9:20 mark.
With Jackson making an inbound pass in front of their bench with 44.4 seconds left, the Eagles managed just two more field-goal attempts on their final two possessions. Rice grabbed a defensive rebound on Anderson’s missed 3 with 7 seconds to go to set up his final free throw.
“It will build a lot of confidence knowing that we finally got a win,” Rice said. “It’ll build our spirits back up. It’s always good to get one. We’ll be ready on Thursday (to host North Carolina State).”
Rice went 4 of 10 from the field for Georgia Tech and Mfon Udofia, despite handing out six assists with no turnovers, was 0 for 7 from the field. Udofia wasn’t concerned about his shooting percentage.
“Like coach told us in the locker room, we don’t know who scored what or who stood out today because we all played together,” Udofia said. “We were trying not to rush things out there and just control the pace of the game. That is what it was. I wasn’t trying to play safe. I was just trying to control the game.”
Donahue, in his second year with Boston College after going 21-13 last season and 9-7 in the ACC, believes his young team will keep its spirits up. The Eagles start a junior college transfer in Humphrey and four freshmen, but that doesn’t make losing any easier.
“They have come from some great, successful programs and now for the first time (they’re) having to deal with failure and, in particular, the physical part with just being overmatched at times,” Donahue said. “I think it is critical that the coaches and all of us stay at positive at all times. This is not the end of the world. This is part of the process of building a program.”
Gregory, whose club enjoyed a rare game in which its assists (12) topped its turnovers (nine), hopes the Jackets can build on their victory when North Carolina State visits Philips Arena next week.
“For us to force 14 turnovers and hold a team to 35 percent shooting was a pretty good effort,” Gregory said. “Pleased with the effort, we will get a day off and start getting ready for Thursday night.”