March 18, 2006

Boston College advances after win over Montana

Box score

SALT LAKE CITY - Boston College finally found a way out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Several ways, actually.

The Eagles were too big, fast and strong for 12th-seeded Montana and beat the adopted home team 69-56 Saturday in the Minneapolis Regional.

Craig Smith had 22 points and 16 rebounds, pulling down eight on offense and putting most of them back for easy layups against the undersized Grizzlies (24-7). Jared Dudley scored 20 and Tyrese Rice was strong from the outside, making four of six 3-pointers and scoring 14 points.

The fourth-seeded Eagles (28-7) won the rebounding battle 44-29 and had too much for the Grizzlies, who were coming off their first NCAA tournament victory since 1975. Montana was clearly the favorite of the fans who filled the Huntsman Center, but hopes of an upset unraveled as Smith went on an 8-0 run by himself at the end of the first half, then the Eagles put away the Grizzlies early in the second.

Several Boston College starters remained in at the end despite the lopsided score and were booed as they left the court.

Montana's Kevin Criswell had three points, 13 below his average, and BC held Andrew Strait to 11 points - five below his average.

Boston College's last six appearances in the tournament had ended within the first two rounds. The last time the Eagles made it to the round of 16 was 1994, when they lost to Florida in the regional finals. They await the winner of Sunday's Villanova-Arizona game.

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