Thornton, Boston College hold off N.C. State for 71-68 win

BOSTON (AP) — Derryck Thornton had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, Jay Heath scored 16, and Boston College held off a second-half surge from North Carolina State in a 71-68 win on Sunday night.

Nik Popovic added 14 points and eight rebounds and Jairus Hamilton scored 11 for Boston College (13-13, 7-8 ACC), which has won four of its last seven. The Eagles have not won back-to-back games since a season-high, four-game winning streak Dec. 7 to 21.

Devon Daniels had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead N.C. State (16-9, 7-7). C.J. Bryce and Jericole Hellems each scored 15 points, and C.J. Funderburk 10.

The Wolfpack had won two straight on the road, but fell short of their first three-game ACC road winning streak in 16 seasons.

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Popovic was making his first start since Dec. 3 against Northwestern. BC guard Jared Hamilton missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.

Popovic was making his first start since Dec. 3 against Northwestern. BC guard Jared Hamilton missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.

N.C. State couldn’t trim its seven-point halftime deficit under five early in the second half. Braxton Beverly’s free throw made it 56-52 midway through the second and DJ Funderburk’s dunk with 6:18 left cut it to 60-58.

Daniels’ 3-pointer with 3:45 remaining tied it at 6-all before Markell Johnson made a spinning layup 30 seconds later to give the Wolfpack their first lead since the game’s opening minute at 66-64.

After Thornton tied it with a pair of free throws, Steffon Mitchell got to the line and made 1 of 2 to put BC up by one with 2:02 left.

Mitchell came up with a couple of key steals after that, both of which ended with Hamilton break-away dunks, to help seal the win.

The last of Mitchell’s steals came after Johnson lost the ball with 11 seconds left and the Wolfpack trailing 69-68. After a timeout, Bryce missed a desperation corner 3 as time expired.

Boston College led 40-33 at halftime behind 11 points from Thornton.

Thornton and Heath combined for 17 points to help BC take a 26-14 lead with eight minutes to play in the first. Daniels scored all seven of his first-half points in the final 6:11 to help N.C. State pull within single digits at the break.

It was the only matchup between the Wolfpack and Eagles this season. N.C. State rolled to a 73-47 win in their most recent meeting last Mar. 9. The forty seven points were the fewest by an opponent in coach Kevin Keatts’ two-plus seasons.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: An inconsistent stretch hasn’t helped the Wolfpack’s standing on the NCAA Tournament bubble. After three straight victories in late January and early February, N.C. State dropped three in a row before bouncing back with two straight wins before Sunday’s setback. A tough back-to-back against No. 7 Duke and No. 8 Florida State could make or break the Wolfpack’s dreams of a third straight postseason trip under Keatts.

Boston College: With minimal hope of earning an at-large bid to avoid an 11-year NCAA Tournament drought, the Eagles’ only hope is to finish strong and build momentum for an ACC Tournament run. BC has alternated wins and losses over its last eight games. The Eagles host three of their final five games, but are just 8-7 at home this season.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Host seventh-ranked Blue Devils on Wednesday night.

Boston College: Visit defending champion Virginia on Wednesday night.

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