Dudley had a game-high 23 points (including 17 in the second half) and 11 rebounds, while Marshall added 18 on 6-10 shooting. Together, they scored 41 of the team’s 59 points en route to a come-from-behind victory over Clemson on Senior Day.
The two co-captains covered for each other on Saturday: one picking up the scoring load when the other struggled. Marshall had 11 points in the first half, making up for a poor shooting effort by Dudley (2-8, 0-6 inside the arc) and the rest of the team (8-26 in all). The Eagles’ anemic offense in the first period put them in a 30-25 hole at the break.
Marshall shot just four times in the second half, but that’s when Dudley turned on the switch. He scored four points during a 10-3 run to start the half that gave BC a 35-33 lead three minutes in. At the 12:16 mark, he buried a three to cap a 19-8 run that gave the Eagles a six-point lead. When Clemson climbed back to tie it at 46 four minutes later, Dudley crashed through the lane, drew a foul, and dropped in an off-balanced layup off the glass with 6:49 remaining. The ensuing free throw gave BC a three-point lead, one that the Eagles never relinquished.
BC’s top-three scorers - Dudley, Marshall and Tyrese Rice (14 points) – scored all but four of the Eagles’ 59 points. But that’s not to say they were the only notable performers. Tyrelle Blair, who missed his only field goal attempt and didn’t make a single mark in the scoring column, had himself a block party on the defensive end. The junior transfer (Loyola, Chicago) swatted a career-high seven shots and grabbed five rebounds, all on the defensive glass, in 26 minutes of action.
“That was huge,” Dudley said about Blair’s defensive presence Saturday. “The way we play defense, not being the most gifted kids defensively, you have to have a shot-blocker to help make up for your mistakes. We had that with Sean Williams and now we have that with Tyrelle.”
The 59-54 win haulted BC’s three-game losing skid. Beating Clemson helped make up for the Eagles’ most recent loss – a 79-62 thrashing by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg – which was particularly hard to swallow.
“We were struggling, we weren’t playing well,” Marshall said after the Clemson win. “Last game it was just a case of not playing hard, not enough energy. But today that wasn’t the case. We came out with a lot of energy, we fought hard, and came out with a W.”
BC’s win Saturday was its 10th in the ACC, giving them double-digit wins in its first two years in the conference. Head coach Al Skinner argued adamantly after that game that the Eagles’ 10 wins should be enough to dance in March.
“Ten wins in this league? I would think so,” Skinner said. “…There’s nobody who has walked through [the ACC] unblemished, so that’s an indication of how tough this league is and how closely competitive these games are.”
Dudley, who has been the team’s strongest 10-wins-and-we’re-in advocate, agreed that it was an impressive accomplishment, but knew there was still work to be done.
“It’s solid, but you really can’t relax,” Dudley said. “You’re 10-5, but why settle? We got a Georgia Tech team that is beatable…we just have to get a win. If we go 11-5, it probably guarantees us a bye [in the ACC tournament].”
To go with his 14 points Saturday, Rice grabbed a career-best six rebounds. Like Dudley, Rice turned it on in the second half after scoring just four points in the first. His inaccuracy from long distance continued (0-2, 30% for the season), but Rice found ways to score in the paint. With 4:29 remaining and the Eagles in drain-the-clock mode, Rice drove to his left and hit a one-handed push shot from just inside the free-throw line with five seconds left on the shot clock. The shot – a Rice staple – put BC up 53-46, at the time its largest lead of the afternoon.
Freshman forward Tyler Roche got the start Saturday, the first of his career. Fellow-greenhorn Shamari Spears had started each of the last 10 games, but was limited to just seven minutes off the bench. Skinner said Spears needed to rest a sore back.
“[Clemson] was starting some perimeter players, so we wanted that,” Skinner said about the decision to start Roche. “Shamari has had some problems with his back, he’s trying to get healthy. So from a ball-handling and quickness standpoint, we just thought it was going to be better for us.”
Roche, known as a sharpshooter from his high school days at Manchester (NH) Central, had a rough go of it. In 28 minutes, he failed to score (0-2 from the field), picked up three fouls, and committed two turnovers. Still, Skinner has confidence that Roche will improve with more minutes.
“As time goes on and he gets more minutes, he’s going to get more comfortable and add a little bit more to this team,” Skinner said.
For their regular season finale, the Eagles will visit Georgia Tech next Sunday (March 4th). The Yellow Jackets will be trying to impress the NCAA Tournament committee themselves by making some noise against North Carolina and BC in their last two games of the season. A win in Atlanta would secure for the Eagles a first-round bye in the ACC tournament.