March 01, 2005

No. 24 Pitt Shocks No. 5 Boston College

BOSTON - No. 24 Pittsburgh impressively snapped a three-game losing streak and made sure the Big East race will come down to the final weekend of the regular season.

Chris Taft had 12 points and eight rebounds to lead the Panthers to a 72-50 victory over No. 5 Boston College on Monday night. That kept the Eagles, who are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference after the season, from clinching a share of the Big East title.

The Eagles (23-3, 12-3) could still win the conference outright or share it if they beat Rutgers on Saturday. No. 15 Connecticut, which is a half-game behind BC, plays Georgetown on Wednesday and No. 13 Syracuse on Saturday.

Antonio Graves scored 13 points and Carl Krauser and John DeGroat each had 10 points and seven rebounds for Pitt (19-7, 9-6), which has beaten Boston College six straight times, including victories in the last three Big East tournaments. Pittsburgh, which had been ranked as high as 10th this season, lost three straight to drop from 17th to 24th in the AP poll.

Craig Smith scored 22 points for BC but, as a sign of the team's failure, airballed a free throw with 5:47 left and the Eagles trailing 59-45. The second shot hit the back of the rim and meekly rolled off.

For BC, the loss was shockingly similar to the one posted by its football team in the Big East finale that knocked it from the lucrative Fiesta Bowl to the Continental Tire Bowl. Like that 47-17 loss to Syracuse, this one wasn't even close.

Smith hit a jumper in the lane to make it 34-32 with 17:38 left. But Pittsburgh scored the next 11 points, getting consecutive putbacks from DeGroat to make it 45-32.

Pitt outrebounded the Eagles 49-27 overall and outshot them 48 percent to 31 percent. It was BC's lowest offensive output of the season.

Boston College won its first 20 games and attained its highest ranking ever — No. 3 — before losing two of its last three games. Another sellout crowd came to say goodbye to the senior class and Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie jammed with the band, playing the drums on "Johnny B. Goode."

BC went 7:19 without scoring while Pitt ran off 11 consecutive points — five from Krauser and four from Chevon Troutman — to take a 16-9 lead. Smith scored 11 consecutive BC points as the Eagles cut it to 26-23.

In the first half, BC shot 29 percent (10-for-34) from the field.

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