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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENTS : No Cheers in Indiana as Boston College Wins : East Regional: Quickness, three-point shooting, heart are key to Eagles' 77-68 victory over Hoosiers.

March 26, 1994|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MIAMI — Do you believe in mira- . . .

Ah, never mind. Boston College passed miracle status six days ago and is now headed directly to impossible dream territory. In short, another day, another upset for the once little-regarded Eagles, who seem to be getting the hang of this NCAA tournament stuff.

Friday evening at the East Regional semifinal, ninth-seeded Boston College surprised Indiana, 77-68, in front of 15,217 at the Miami Arena. That now makes two coaching legends beaten by the Eagles in six days--Bob Knight here, North Carolina's Dean Smith at the Landover, Md., subregional.

"It's a hell of a week for us," said Boston College Coach Jim O'Brien, whose team becomes the first No. 9 seed in a 64-team field to advance this far.

And who knows the last time someone recorded consecutive victories over the likes of Knight (three national championships) and Smith (two NCAA titles). Last week, as the Eagles prepared for the tournament, O'Brien made fun of his place in the East Regional coaching pecking order.

There was Knight. There was Smith. There was Temple's John Chaney. And then there was O'Brien, who had one tournament victory compared to the combined 106 of the other three.

"You put Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, John Chaney and Jim O'Brien on the same list, you say, 'What's wrong with that screen?"' O'Brien said.

There's nothing wrong with it now. Of course, don't mention that to O'Brien, who said he hasn't proved a thing--yet.

"It's still the same thing," he said. "When you start thinking about how many wins those guys have. I've got three wins in the NCAA. Nothing's really changed. We've been lucky this week."

Is that so? According to Eagle forward Malcolm Huckaby, luck didn't have a thing to do with it.

"I felt it was another excellent ballgame by us," said Huckaby, who seems to be repeating himself these days.

Once again, the Eagles took advantage of their quickness, their three-point shooters and their heart. Knight knew it early on. With three minutes gone and Boston College already up by six points, he turned to someone on the Hoosier bench and said, "This is as tough a bunch of kids as we've played all year."

Indiana's plan was simple: Stop Boston College star center Bill Curley, make the Eagles convert three-pointers, confuse them with the Hoosiers' renowned motion offense.

Unfortunately for fifth-seeded Indiana, one out of three won't do it. Curley, who made only three of 11 shots, finished with 11 points, and power forward Danya Abrams converted only two of 10 from the field. But Curley compensated for his offensive struggles by grabbing 13 rebounds and holding Hoosier leading scorer Alan Henderson to a little-noticed 12 points.

Meanwhile, Eagle guard Howard Eisley led everyone with 18 points (four of six on three-point shots), and Gerrod Abram and Huckaby each added 15 points. Boston College made 10 of 16 three pointers, seven of 10 in the first half.

"We might have helped off (on Curley) too much," said Hoosier forward Pat Graham.

Trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, Indiana eventually overtook the Eagles early in the second and held a 64-59 lead with 6:55 remaining.

Then Abrams hit a shot, followed shortly by an Eisley three-pointer. There were four more lead changes until 2:05, when Boston College pulled away for good.

"Everybody said they beat North Carolina and it was a fluke," said Indiana guard Damon Bailey, whose career ended Friday evening. "Some say beating Indiana was a fluke. I don't know that."

This much is sure: The Eagles remain in Miami, the Hoosiers head home to Bloomington.

"We didn't come here just to win one game," Curley said. "We want to go somewhere."

They are. To the final eight.

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