Louisville holds off Boston College 80-70
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Making all but four of his 16 shots was pleasing enough for Jordan Nwora, who complemented his career night with a double-digit rebounding performance that has become habit this season.
Louisville certainly needed the sophomore forward’s impressive efforts on both ends to earn a hard-fought victory over Boston College.
Nwora scored 18 of his career-high 32 points before the break and capped it with five points in the final minute to help the Cardinals hold off the Eagles 80-70 on Wednesday night.
Besides grabbing 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season, Nwora had four assists, a block and a steal. Every statistic came in handy in a weird contest for Louisville (12-5, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which first trailed and then led big before surviving behind timely plays by Nwora and Dwayne Sutton (14 points, 10 rebounds).
But especially those clutch shots.
“I don’t really know necessarily how much I have until toward the end of the game,” said Nwora, who became the first Cardinal with at least 30 points since Wayne Blackshear’s 31 against CUSN on Dec. 23, 2014.
“I wasn’t really worried about it. I was more worried about closing the game out.”
Following up Saturday’s 21-point road upset of then-No. 12 North Carolina initially took time for Louisville, which made just 5 of their first 21 from the field. The Eagles (9-7, 0-4) meanwhile started 12 of 22 to lead 28-16 before Louisville quickly heated up as Sutton scored eight consecutive points.
Nwora picked it up from there with 11 points during the pivotal 18-1 spurt, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Cardinals finished 9 of 11 to lead 43-33 at halftime. Louisville eventually built a 23-point lead with 9:10 left before BC rallied within 75-70 on Nik Popovic’s layup with just under two minutes remaining.
Sutton then fought through a crowd for a critical offensive rebound of his own missed 3-pointer before Christen Cunningham fed Nwora for a 3 with 52 seconds left for an eight-point cushion. Nwora closed the game with a thunderous breakaway dunk with 27 seconds left for the final margin.
“When I shot it, I knew it was short,” Sutton said, “so I knew if I followed my shot I had a good chance of getting the offensive rebound. I got the rebound, kicked it out to CC and it ended up being a big possession for us down the stretch.”
Sutton shot 5 of 10 with 10 boards for his third consecutive double-double while Cunningham had nine points and a season-high eight assists for the Cardinals, who finished shooting 47 percent.
Boston College: The Eagles ran hot and cold throughout the game, with the latter putting them on the verge of being blown out. Just like that, Bowman lifted them on both ends to make things interesting down the stretch. They finished even in paint scoring (32-32) and points off turnovers (18), but that big hole proved too much to overcome as they fell to 0-5 against Louisville in ACC play.
“We picked up our pressure,” coach Jim Christian said. “We turned them over. We pressed them, trapped them, forced turnovers and that led to some baskets. That’s what happens.”
Louisville: After missing a bunch of good looks at the start, the Cardinals seemingly couldn’t miss entering the break thanks to boosts by Sutton and then Nwora. They cooled off in the second half and allowed BC to rally, but the Sutton-Nwora combination came up big and helped them avoid a letdown loss after a big win.
“It became a tight game down the stretch,” coach Chris Mack said. “At the same time, I give our guys credit for being able to withstand a heck of a push and heck of a run by BC and still have the fortitude and calm-enough nerves to make a few shots and get a few stops in that last four-minute war.”
Boston College hosts No. 11 Florida State on Sunday.
Louisville visits Georgia Tech on Saturday.