Sunday, March 18, 2001

Southern Cal next for UK




By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer

        UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Robert Hutchinson took charge in the final minutes when he suddenly found himself running the point for Southern California.

        Hutchinson, a sophomore who came in when starting point guard Brandon Granville fouled out with seven minutes left, made five key free throws in the last 1:17 to lead the Trojans to a 74-71 victory over Boston College in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.

        “I thought to myself that I've got to step up and lead the team to the Sweet 16,” said Hutchinson, a transfer from Okaloosa-Walton College in Florida. “Coach told me just to relax. I was kind of nervous, but I kind of expected that.”

        Hutchinson, who made two quick turnovers when he came in, was just 4-of-7 from the foul line before shooting 5-of-6 against Boston College.

        “I've told the guys all along that opportunities will come,” coach Henry Bibby said. “And today, Robert Hutchinson was the hero.”

        David Bluthenthal scored 20 points, Jeff Trepagnier 18 and Sam Clancy had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans (23-9), who advanced past the second round for the first time since 1954, when they went to the Final Four.

        Troy Bell scored 32 points for the third-seeded Eagles (27-5), whose eight-game winning streak was stopped by the sixth-seeded Trojans. Boston College had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but Kenny Harley drove to the basket instead of attempting a 3-pointer and missed.

        “It came down to the last shot,” Harley said. “It was either go for the 3 or try to get the three-point play. In a situation like that, I tried to drive in and get some contact and draw a foul.”

        Bell got the rebound and missed a follow attempt as time expired.

        “I think too much emphasis is being put on one play,” Boston College coach Al Skinner said. “There were a lot of plays that could have affected the game. One thing I teach my kids is to always go for a good shot. If we hit it, there's still time left on the clock.”

        Bell blamed himself for not taking a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

        “I should have taken that last shot,” said Bell, who was 8-of-20 from the field. “I was having a decent shooting night, and I take responsibility for not taking that last shot.”

        Southern Cal will play second-seeded Kentucky in the East Regional semifinals on Thursday night in Philadelphia. The Wildcats beat Iowa 92-79.

        Boston College fell behind 56-45 with 8:09 remaining, but the Eagles went on an 11-1 run — led by Bell's seven points — to make it 57-56 with 5:37 left.

        The Eagles didn't let the Trojans go up by more than three, and took their first lead since late in the first half when Bell scored on a layup to make it 64-63 with 2:42 left.

        Clancy answered with a jumper at 2:10 to give the Trojans back the lead 65-64. Hutchinson made two free throws at 1:17, and then grabbed a rebound of a missed Boston College shot and passed to Clancy who dunked to give USC a 69-64 lead with 59.2 seconds left.

        Harley made two free throws with 50.4 seconds left, and Uka Agbai dunked 14 seconds later to make it 69-68. Hutchinson made two more foul shots, and Bluthenthal followed with two of his own to give the Trojans a 73-68 lead with 16.2 seconds left.

        Bell nailed a 3-pointer seven seconds later to make it 73-71. Hutchinson was fouled with 7.5 seconds left and missed his first shot, but drained the second to seal the Trojans' fifth straight victory.

        “I am speechless. This was the most excitement I've had in a game in a long time,” Bibby said. “The guys kept persevering and pulled it out.”

        The teams combined for 47 fouls, and both played the last five minutes with key players in trouble with four personals.

        The Eagles, who had a season-high 52 rebounds in its 68-65 victory over Southern Utah on Thursday, were outsized and outrebounded 41-28 by USC. The Trojans had three starters 6-foot-7 or taller, while the Eagles had just one — 6-8 center Agbai.

        Boston College couldn't take advantage of USC's 27 turnovers because it couldn't hit its shots, shooting just 30 percent (21-of-69) from the field, while USC shot 60 percent (22-of-37).

        “There's no way that this one game can diminish what this team has accomplished this year,” said Skinner, who led the Eagles to the Big East tournament championship a year after they finished last in the conference. “Tonight doesn't negate all of our accomplishments.”

        USC led 35-31 at halftime after withstanding a late 17-2 run by Boston College.

        Clancy, who shot just 4-of-12 from the foul line, joined Brian Scalabrine, Trepagnier and Granville as USC 1,000-point scorers.

        The game marked the first meeting between the schools.

        SOUTHERN CAL (23-9) - Bluthenthal 5-8 9-11 20, Clancy 5-6 4-12 14, Scalabrine 2-4 0-0 4, Granville 2-7 4-4 9, Trepagnier 7-11 2-2 18, Turner 1-1 2-2 4, Hutchinson 0-0 5-6 5, Murphy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-37 26-37 74.

        BOSTON COLLEGE (27-5) - Agbai 5-10 2-2 12, Walls 0-1 1-2 1, Singletary 2-10 2-2 6, Bell 8-20 12-14 32, Harley 2-12 5-6 10, Beerbohm 1-5 0-0 3, Sidney 3-9 0-0 6, Ross 0-2 1-1 1. Totals 21-69 23-27 71.

        Halftime—Southern Cal 35, Boston College 31. 3-Point Goals—Southern Cal 4-12 (Trepagnier 2-4, Bluthenthal 1-4, Granville 1-4), Boston College 6-23 (Bell 4-10, Beerbohm 1-2, Harley 1-3, Sidney 0-3, Singletary 0-5). Fouled out—Clancy, Granville. Rebounds—Southern Cal 41 (Clancy 12), Boston College 28 (Bell 5). Assists—Southern Cal 13 (Granville 6), Boston College 11 (Bell 3). Total fouls—Southern Cal 20, Boston College 27.

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