- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - E’Twaun Moore scored 19 points and No. 10 Purdue withstood a late rally to beat Boston College 71-64 on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

JaJuan Johnson added 12 points, Keaton Grant had 11 and Robbie Hummel 10 for the Boilermakers (5-0), who led by 19 with about 6 1/2 minutes left before the Eagles started whittling the lead.

Boston College got to 64-56 on a pair of free throws by Tyrese Rice with 1:42 left, then forced Grant into a turnover at the other end. But sophomore forward Corey Raji was called for an offensive foul, and the Boilermakers held on from the free throw line.

Purdue advanced to play either No. 11 Oklahoma or Alabama-Birmingham for the championship Friday.

Rice finished with 17 points for Boston College (3-2). Joe Trapani added 14 points and Josh Southern had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

A sparse crowd turned out the night before Thanksgiving to see a pair of teams that excel at defense muddle through a first half that only Dick Butkus could love.

Every time Rice tried to drive from the wing, three Boilermakers were there to clog up the lane. Each time Hummel tried to spot up for 3-pointer, it seemed a dozen Boston College players were shoving their hands in his face.

The Boilermakers, who limited Coppin State to 22 first-half points in their previous game, held the Eagles to 1-for-11 shooting beyond the arc in the first half. But Boston College was just as gritty and proficient on the defensive end, and it took a 12-2 run by Purdue in the closing minutes to take a 34-30 lead into the break.

Boston College never did get back to even in the second half. Grant hit a 3-pointer and followed it with a three-point play, Chris Kramer jammed one on a run-out and Hummel hit a baseline jumper as Purdue pushed the lead to 51-41 with about 13 minutes left.

The Eagles were so flustered that after a timeout they were too slow getting back on the court. A referee set the ball on the sideline and started counting _ something often seen in high school hoops but rarely at this level _ before Rice managed to sprint over and get it inbounds just before a 5-second violation.

Rice, a senior guard who once scored 46 points against North Carolina, struggled with his shot for the second straight game. After missing 12 of 14 from the field in the Eagles’ loss to Saint Louis last Saturday, Rice was just 4-of-12 shooting and scored most of his points in the closing minutes.

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