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State 74, BC 69

March 5, 2009

The Pack puts the clamp down on Tyrese Rice in the second half, holding him to just 14 points, and Ben McCauley goes out in style on senior night to help the Pack score a big victory at home in their final home game of the season.

Rice in fact hit his final bucket with 15:35 left on the clock. Javi Gonzalez stepped his defensive intensity up in the second half on Rice and kept him from hurting the Pack from the field.

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Gonzalez had some big plays on the offensive end, as well. He hit a big breakaway bucket late in the game, flipping the ball over the BC defender and into the basket in a shot even Rice would be proud of. He tracked down a huge offensive rebound off a McCauley miss late in the game, as well, helping to seal the deal. Overall, Gonzo finished with six assists against only one turnover — the kind of play you need in order to succeed in the ACC.

Rebounding and turnovers were big factors tonight. Boston College is a tremendous offensive rebounding team but State beat the Eagles on the glass at both ends of the court, pulling down nine offensive boards to their seven and beat them 20 to 16 on the defensive glass. The Pack controlled the ball well when they had it, only turning the ball over nine times. Both elements combined to limit the Pack’s empty possessions, and when the Pack values the basketball, they’ve shown they can be a very efficient team offensively.

McCauley had a huge game in his final game at the RBC Center. The senior from West Newton, PA, scored 20 points to go with six boards, had two assists, one block and brought a lot of much-needed emotion to a team that could’ve folded after the tough loss to Maryland Sunday. He hit the final two free throws that sealed the game, holding the release on his last one an extra second just to savor the moment.

For the other senior on the court, Courtney Fells, the news was not as good. He succumbed to a groin injury late in the first half that sideline him the rest of the game. The tragedy of it all was that he was playing so well, having scored 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from three and four of six overall, with his parents from Mississippi in attendance. He was on his way to a great finish, and now has to wonder if his career is over, depending upon how severe the groin injury turns out to be.

Big win tonight. It gives the Pack energy and momentum heading into the Miami game, who will be reeling after a home loss themselves in their final home game of the year. State will hope to pull off on Saturday what BC could not do tonight.

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