March 17, 2001
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Robert Hutchinson took charge in the final minuteswhen he suddenly found himself running the point for Southern California.
Hutchinson, a sophomore who came in when starting point guard BrandonGranville fouled out with seven minutes left, made five key free throws in thelast 1:17 to lead the Trojans to a 74-71 victory over Boston College in thesecond round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.
'I thought to myself that I've got to step up and lead the team to theSweet 16,' said Hutchinson, a transfer from Okaloosa-Walton College inFlorida. 'Coach told me just to relax. I was kind of nervous, but I kind ofexpected that.'
Hutchinson, who made two quick turnovers when he came in, was just 4-of-7from the foul line before shooting 5-of-6 against Boston College.
'I've told the guys all along that opportunities will come,' coach HenryBibby said. 'And today, Robert Hutchinson was the hero.'
David Bluthenthal scored 20 points, Jeff Trepagnier 18 and Sam Clancy had 14points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans (23-9), who advanced past the secondround 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), whoseeight-game winning streak was stopped by the sixth-seeded Trojans. BostonCollege had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but Kenny Harley droveto 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 3or try to get the three-point play. In a situation like that, I tried to drivein 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 coachAl 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 thefield. 'I was having a decent shooting night, and I take responsibility fornot taking that last shot.'
Kentucky and Iowa played in the second game of the East Regional on Saturdaynight.
Boston College fell behind 56-45 with 8:09 remaining, but the Eagles went onan 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 theirfirst lead since late in the first half when Bell scored on a layup to make it64-63 with 2:42 left.
Clancy answered with a jumper at 2:10 to give the Trojans back the lead65-64. Hutchinson made two free throws at 1:17, and then grabbed a rebound of amissed Boston College shot and passed to Clancy who dunked to give USC a 69-64lead with 59.2 seconds left.
Harley made two free throws with 50.4 seconds left, and Uka Agbai dunked 14seconds later to make it 69-68. Hutchinson made two more foul shots, andBluthenthal followed with two of his own to give the Trojans a 73-68 lead with16.2 seconds left.
Bell nailed a 3-pointer seven seconds later to make it 73-71. Hutchinson wasfouled with 7.5 seconds left and missed his first shot, but drained the secondto seal the Trojans' fifth straight victory.
'I am speechless. This was the most excitement I've had in a game in a longtime,' Bibby said. 'The guys kept persevering and pulled it out.'
The teams combined for 47 fouls, and both played the last five minutes withkey players in trouble with four personals.
The Eagles, who had a season-high 52 rebounds in its 68-65 victory overSouthern Utah on Thursday, were outsized and outrebounded 41-28 by USC. TheTrojans 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 itcouldn'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 hasaccomplished this year,' said Skinner, who led the Eagles to the Big Easttournament 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 BostonCollege.
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.
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer
TODAY | 5:30pm PTLive