BOSTON — A season-opening, 43-point loss to top ranked Indiana and 100 other defeats the past four years finally seem like they were worth it for Bryant.
Dyami Starks scored all 17 of his points in the second half, including a tiebreaking driving basket with 1:44 to play, lifting Bryant past Boston College 56-54 for the school’s first victory ever over an Atlantic Coast Conference team.
“All the losing and to finally start to turn it, it’s kind of emotional,” Bryant coach Tim O’Shea said. “I know people will say, ‘BC, they’re not very good.’ But that doesn’t show where we are, in transition to Division I, getting a win over an ACC program. It’s not just a win. Because of where we are in the program, it’s a big deal.”
Frankie Dobbs added 15 points and Corey Maynard nine for Bryant (3-2), which moved to Division I four years ago and had lost all four previous meetings with the Eagles. The Bulldogs had been 0-5 against ACC teams.
With the win, Bryant is 23-101 since moving to Division I.
When it ended, the Bulldogs players jumped from the bench and met those on the court to celebrate.
“Last year when I was sitting on the bench all year, watching the struggles, I feel like this is for our seniors,” said Starks, who sat out last season after transferring from Columbia. “It all came to summation at the end.”
Olivier Hanlan led Boston College (2-4) with 19 points and Joe Rahon had 11.
“Bryant deserved to win the game. They played harder and smarter than us on both sides of the ball,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “It was how we played that I was extremely disappointed. I just thought they played with an understanding, but we did not play really smart basketball. I did not think we were coached very well.”
After Boston College tied the game on a jumper by Hanlan, Starks did what he did for most of the second half — he hit a key basket for Bryant.
“I knew that down the stretch guys tend to get a little passive on defense. They don’t like to foul,” Starks said. “I knew if you go right down their throats they’re not going to expect that. Just go before the defense sets up and you’re going to get easy points.”
Following Starks’ basket, Alex Francis’ free throw gave Bryant a 54-51 edge before Rahon had one free throw for the Eagles.
Dobbs then hit the first of two from the line, making it 55-52, before the Eagles’ Hanlan hit two from the line with 31 seconds left.
Hanlan missed a short jumper in the lane and the Eagles fouled Dobbs, who hit one of two to make it 56-54 with 12.5 seconds left.
Boston College called a time out at midcourt, then Hanlan was called for an offensive foul with 3 seconds left. But the Bulldogs’ inbounder traveled before throwing the ball in, giving the Eagles one last shot.
Ryan Anderson’s long jumper rolled off the rim and the ball hit the floor as the horn sounded.
Trailing 49-45, Dobbs and Starks nailed consecutive 3s just 32 seconds apart, giving the Bulldogs their first lead since early in the second half.
But Hanlan’s long jumper from the top as the shot clock was about to expire tied the game at 51-51 with 3:23 to go.
The Eagles, coming off a one-point win over Auburn on Wednesday, went on a 16-5 run early in the second half to grab a 40-34 lead on Andrew Van Nest’s two free throws with 12:48 to play. Hanlan started the spree with three straight driving baskets — he was fouled on the first and converted the free throw for a three-point play.
O’Shea’s a Boston College grad (’84) and longtime assistant.
In a first half filled with mostly missed shots, Bryant held a 26-24 edge at intermission after Maynard’s driving buzzer-beating shot in the lane.
Boston College missed its initial seven shots from the floor and Bryant 7 of 8. The teams then posted similarly ineffective 2 for 11 and 3 for 15 marks from the field before they started to heat up a bit before the half.
Lonnie Jackson and Rahon had consecutive 3s from the left corner 36 seconds apart late in the half, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game, 22-21, before the Bulldogs scored on their last two possessions. Dobbs nailed a 3 from the right wing prior to Maynard’s basket.