Spears Dazzles in Debut

Freshman forward Shamari Spears put up a game-high 23 points and led the Eagles to a blowout, 86-47 victory over New Hampshire Friday night in his first regular season college basketball game. Senior Jared Dudley, meanwhile, registered the 15th double-double of his career with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

"It's a lot of pressure because Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall are very high-profile players," Spears said after the game. "So you just want to keep up with what they're doing and try not to fall behind and just play your role or whatever you do on the team. I just wanted to come out here and have a solid game and make sure we got the win and just play to the best of my ability and play hard."

Offensive rebounding, suffocating defense, and the dominating scoring ability of Spears, Dudley, and Sean Marshall kept BC comfortably in the lead from the opening minutes to the final buzzer. The Eagles had an astounding 27 more rebounds than the Wildcats and 14 of their 47 boards came on the offensive glass. It was a testament to their intense, physical play underneath the basket that BC fans have grown so accustomed to watching in the Al Skinner era.

The Eagles' toughness on the glass led to a barrage of foul calls on the Wildcats. BC had a 20-point advantage on free throws alone and went to the line 30 times, 23 more than UNH. Spears, a 6-foot-6" forward who replaces the Minnesota Timberwolves' Craig Smith this year as the Eagles starter at the "four" position, went to the stripe more than anyone Friday, making seven of 11 free throw attempts.

Four minutes into the game, the Wildcats had kept BC to just eight points and were holding on to an 11-8 lead. But after the first media timeout, the Eagles jumped ahead and fastened for themselves a big lead that they would never relinquish. Spears and Dudley provided the majority of the damage as they paced the Eagles to a 7-0 run and forced UNH coach Bill Herrion to call a 30-second timeout after Dudley made a tough four-footer on the baseline and ran up the floor signaling for the crowd to get on its feet.

The streak stretched to 12 points without a UNH field goal before freshman guard Dan McGreary knocked down a three-pointer. But the Eagles were still leading 20-14 and refused to let the bucket kill their momentum. Three possessions later, Dudley cut off a lazy pass at halfcourt and finished a wide open breakaway with a two-handed dunk as the crowd exploded. As Dudley and his teammates celebrated, Herrion called another timeout after the Eagles had capped off an 18-3 run and led the Wildcats 26-14.

By the end of the first half, Spears and Dudley had combined for as many points as the whole UNH team and the Eagles led comfortably, 42-24. Marshall, who had just two points in the first 20 minutes, found his stroke after the break. The senior guard, sporting a wide Mohawk atop his head, went 4-6 from the field (1-2 from behind the arc) in the second half and finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Spears continued his hot scoring right out of the gates in the second half, scoring six-straight points on layups in the paint. Dudley, who had four assists in the game, fed Spears down low all night long when the defense collapsed on him. His ability to dish it to his younger teammate, Dudley said, is what will lead to success for both players down the road.

"He'll have his opportunities, this is not going to be the only game," Dudley said about Spears' impressive night. "I told everyone down at the ACC Media Day that he's going to have a big year. For one, a lot of plays are going to go to him. All the focus could be on me or Sean, but the way I play, I'm unselfish, I'm looking for him to score and I know that if I'm going to have any success for personally myself and my team, I need someone else to step up."

With 17:41 to go, the Eagles had expanded their lead to 24 and Herrion called a timeout when Spears netted his 16th point of the game on a layup from the baseline. For the next ten minutes, the lead would grow as the Eagles muscled the ball inside and began to hit shots from the outside. With a little more than six minutes remaining, Marquez Haynes drew the loudest ovation of the night when he slammed home an alley-oop on a picturesque pass by Marshall. The graceful play by Haynes, a 6-foot-3" sophomore guard, gave the Eagles a 35-point lead and put the nail in the coffin. Two minutes later, BC ushered out its reserves to close out a dominating victory.

"Like I told the guys, New Hampshire is a decent club," Skinner said after the game, "but we're going to see better. So it was important for us to not lose focus of that, that we're trying to get better, we're not focused just on beating New Hampshire, we're focusing on trying to continue to improve and I thought that was very important for us…Now we need to get ourselves ready for Vermont."

Vermont will make its way down to Chestnut Hill on Monday, when the Eagles host the Mountaineers at 7:00 p.m. on NESN.

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