Jan 25, 2003
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) – Boston College was only able to shut Chris Thomas down for a half.
Thomas scored 25 of his 28 points after halftime, adding seven assists and a season-high eight rebounds to lead No. 16 Notre Dame to a 101-96 overtime victory over Boston College on Saturday.
“They didn’t want to play defense in the first half,” he said. “The first half, I just said, ‘I’ll get my teammates involved in the game.’ I tried the same thing in the second half, but there were a lot more openings. I felt like I could take my man off the dribble any time.”
Thomas scored 18 points in the second half, but he was quiet in overtime until making two free throws, then stealing the ball from Troy Bell and making a breakaway layup to give the Irish (16-3, 4-1 Big East) a 92-85 lead with 1:42 to play.
Jordan Cornette had 11 rebounds and Matt Carroll scored 18, returning from a hard fall in the first half to hit a four-point play early in overtime from which the Eagles never recovered. Notre Dame was 9-of-14 from the free throw line down the stretch to hold off the Eagles (8-8, 1-4).
“I’ll live with Matt Carroll, shooting that thing with our life on the line forever,” said Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey, whose team won consecutive away games after starting out 0-2 on the road. “I can watch the Super Bowl with a free mind.”
Bell matched his season high with 31 points, and freshman Craig Smith had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the BC, which has lost six of its last eight games.
Matt Carroll drives past BC’s Jermaine Watson during the first half.
Notre Dame led 47-37 at halftime, but BC scored the first 11 points of the second half – seven by Bell and four by Ryan Sidney – to take its first lead since the opening basket of the game.
“We spotted them some and then we were digging ourselves out of a hole,” BC coach Al Skinner said. “It’s obviously it’s a mental thing. … For us to get the lead in the second half, there’s a lot of resiliency, a toughness to this team. We’ve just got to sustain it.”
The lead changed hands six times over the next seven minutes before the Irish took a 71-65 lead on Thomas’ 3-pointer with 7:22 to play. BC cut the deficit to one point on Bell’s two free throws that made it 81-80 with 1:30 left.
After Notre Dame lost the ball out of bounds, Bell was tied up for a jump ball by Cornette, giving possession to the Irish. Thomas was fouled, and he missed the first before hitting the second to make it 82-80 with 38 seconds left.
Bell was fouled driving to the basket, and he hit two free throws with 27 seconds left to tie it. Thomas calmly brought the ball up, but he lost the handle as he was making his move in the final seconds and missed his buzzer-beater badly.