NEW YORK (AP) _ Boston College’s only win this season came with Olivier Hanlan scoring a career-high 38 points on 11-of-19 shooting against Florida Atlantic.
The Eagles’ next game was against No. 18 Connecticut, and the Huskies were going to make sure the Atlantic Coast Conference’s rookie of the year last season didn’t put up numbers like that.
Hanlan finished with 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting in Connecticut’s 72-70 victory Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project.
“They were pretty aggressive coming off ball screens and when I would come off a handoff they would deny and get to the open spot,” Hanlan said. “I think that’s probably the game plan they had in mind.”
Connecticut guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright were responsible for most of the coverage on Hanlan.
“It wasn’t only me and Ryan,” Napier said. “The whole team, all five guys were looking at him. Coach warned us about him. He’s tough and we wanted to tire him out and we felt we did so.”
Connecticut and Boston College had played plenty of times since their first meeting in 1918 _ but not since 2005 when both were in the Big East.
Eight years and two different conferences later, they had one of the best games of their 90 meetings.
Boatwright made two big free throws with 7.9 seconds to play and blocked a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
“That was like an old BC-UConn rivalry,” said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, who played in a few of those games when he was a guard with the Huskies. “Coming down to the last possession like that. We gutted out a win.”
DeAndre Daniels had 23 points to lead the Huskies (5-0), who play the winner of the Washington-Indiana game for the title on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Napier had 20 points for Connecticut, which led most of the way. He made his first seven free throws but missed the second of two with 30 seconds left, leaving the Huskies ahead 69-67.
Hanlan missed a drive and the 6-foot Boatwright was fouled grabbing the rebound. He made two free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining to make it 71-67.
Hanlan felt he should have made the shot, which sat on the rim for a split second before falling off.
“They were pretty aggressive the whole game. It was an open look,” he said.
Hanlan, who finished with 19 points, hit a 3 with 3 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Napier made one of two free throws with 2.3 seconds to go, and the Eagles’ chance to win ended when Boatwright blocked Lonnie Jackson’s 3-point attempt a few feet inside midcourt.
“Ryan’s block was a phenomenal play,” Ollie said. “He was able to use his athleticism to jump up. The kid didn’t have time for a pump fake.”
Boatwright had two blocks in the game, one more than his previous career high.
“He did a lot of things for us tonight,” Ollie said. “He had a great floor game. I know he wanted to score a little more, but the game is going to dictate that and when that does you have to play for your teammates. He can explode at any time and I know he’ll be ready for tomorrow and we’ll play better offense than we did tonight.”
The Huskies shot 39 percent from the field, just 32 percent in the second half (8 of 25).
“We weren’t knocking down our shots. We only had seven assists,” Napier said. “But we weren’t able to knock down the easy shots and it made it difficult for us to break out.”
Boston College coach Steve Donahue was proud of his team for hanging around.
“We held them to 32 percent in the second half and outrebounded for the game (33-32) and we did a lot of good things and that’s frustrating,” he said.
Both teams had impressive games at the free throw line. The Huskies were 25 of 29, with Napier going 8 for 10. Ryan Anderson, who had 22 points, was 11 of 11 as the Eagles (1-4) finished 24 of 25 from the line.
Boston College spread the court against the taller Huskies and went 8 of 25 on 3-pointers. The Huskies were 3 of 14 from beyond the arc but committed just three turnovers.
“I tell our guys if we are under 10 turnovers, the coaches have to run sprints,” Ollie said with a smile. “I guess we owe them seven when we get back.”
The last time these schools met, both were members of the Big East Conference. Now, neither is.
Boston College beat Connecticut 75-70 on Jan. 5, 2005. Boston College left for the Atlantic Coast Conference after that season. Connecticut stayed as one of the powers of the Big East until this season when it left for the fledgling American Athletic Conference after the Big East split between its basketball-only and football schools.