CHESTNUT HILL, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- Boston College avenged a bitter football loss to Syracuse by winning a basketball game more suited for the gridiron.
Led by Craig Smith and Jared Dudley, the fifth-ranked Eagles outlasted the ninth-ranked Orange, 65-60, and then escaped as most of the students in the sellout crowd rushed the court.
Syracuse, which knocked Boston College from a BCS Bowl with a 43-17 football win at Chestnut Hill in November, has lost three of its last four games, all to ranked teams.
"It was like a football game out there," Smith said. "Bodies were getting banged around and once we got used to it, I think we all got into a rhythm."
The game was a battle of Big East Player of the Year favorites Smith and Hakim Warrick. Smith clearly won the battle.
"Of course I'd pull for Craig (for Big East Player of the Year)," said Boston College coach Al Skinner of Smith, who entered the game fourth in the conference in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (8.4). "He's clearly the anchor. When team's prepare for us, they prepare for him."
Warrick is second in the conference at 20.3 points and third in rebounding at 8.5 rebounds.
Smith, who averaged over 25 points in three previous contests against Syracuse, had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Dudley scored 16 in the second half as Boston College rallied from a two-point halftime deficit to improve to 7-1 when trailing at the break and 14-1 when trailing in the second half.
"For us to win, we have to assert ourselves," Boston College coach Al Skinner said. "For him (Smith) to get 15 rebounds, that's tremendous. For us to be a good basketball team, that's the type of effort he has to bring. When he works as hard as he did (tonight), it makes it easier for everybody else. He played tremendously tonight."
Warrick was limited to three second-half shots and scored just two of his 12 points in the final 20 minutes. The senior had just four rebounds for the game.
"I just wasn't aggressive enough," said Warrick. "We knew how good they were coming in, with just one loss, so we're not surprised at how they played. They're just tough."
Dudley sparked a second-half comeback then provided clutch baskets every time the Orange got close.
Trailing, 29-27, at the break, Dudley triggered a 12-2 run to start the second half with a 3-pointer and a layup. The sophomore forward hit another shot from the arc to push the lead to 44-35 with 13 minutes left and, on two occasions over the next six minutes when Syracuse pulled within two, he scored to halt the spurt.
"He's (Dudley) been doing it all year," Skinner said. "Obviously, he's an intelligent player; he understands what he's trying to do. ... He's cerebral and he's tough and that's a good combination."
But the Eagles' victory wasn't assured until Dudley, Smith and Jermaine Watson made nine free throws in the final 75 seconds and the Orange's Gerry McNamara airballed two long 3-point attempts in the final 30 seconds that could have tied it.
"We survived," Skinner said after his team improved to 15-0 this season at Conte Forum. "It was a Big East battle. Guys were working hard and bumping bodies. I think each team made some good plays but we just happened to make enough good plays to keep us up and then we made our free throws coming down the stretch."
Boston College (22-1, 11-1 Big East), survived two run-ins with the officials. Nate Doornekamp was whistled for a technical late in the first half for bumping Warrick that helped Syracuse rally for a halftime lead.
The Eagles then lost starting point guard Louis Hinnant when he argued his fourth foul of the game. Official Reggie Greenwood assessed a technical for his fifth foul with 13:37 remaining.
Dudley, who came into the game off three straight double-doubles and scoring 60 percent of his points this season after halftime, finished with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists as Boston College took a 2 1/2 game lead over Syracuse (22-5, 9-4) with four to play. Connecticut moved into second place, two games behind Boston College, with a 85-63 victory over Rutgers.
Gerry McNamara scored 18 points but shot just 2-of-11 from the arc for the Orange, who dropped to 0-5 when outrebounded. The Eagles won the battle of the boards, 45-31.
"Rebounding has been (a problem) in every game we've lost," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "You can't blame everything on one thing in the game of basketball but because you're playing a zone defense doesn't mean you can't rebound.
"Dudley's tipin (with 2:40 remaining and BC leading by four) is a good example. We've got a 6-9 guy and a 6-11 guy there and Dudley gets the tip," Boeheim said.