Holy Cross feasts on Eagles’ errors
WORCESTER - With seven minutes left in Boston College’s 86-64 loss to Holy Cross last night, it was an absolute jailbreak.
Holy Cross was running relays to the rim for fast-break dunks. R.J. Evans had raced for two one-handed flushes.
Devin Brown got his chance to get loose thanks to an airmailed inbounds pass that he turned into a fast-break layup.
Boston College piled up mistakes - from entry passes that looked more like gutter balls to NBA-range 3-pointers that missed the rim and bounced off the glass - and Holy Cross fed off them, picking up its first win of the season and first win over the Eagles since 2002, when BC was a 19-12 NIT team led by Craig Smith.
The Eagles had won 16 of the previous 17 meetings.
After losing to College of Charleston and coming up short after scaring Harvard, beating a BC team they had history with was more than gratifying for the Crusaders.
Brown, who scored a game-high 32 points, drilling 5 of 9 3-point attempts, said he spent the last 15 minutes of one of his classes getting the students amped for game night.
“I think there was big emotion there,’’ said Brown. “First off, we knew we would have a big student turnout, so there was a lot of pressure. We didn’t want to let those guys down. Second, we kind of knew about the rivalry that had existed the past couple years. We kind of just wanted to get that going. And third, coming off that loss to Harvard, we didn’t want to get off to that same slow start.
“We knew that this game was kind of a statement.’’
The Crusaders threw the Eagles in an early hole. It was 16-13 with 10:14 left in the first half when Holy Cross ripped off a 12-3 run. The scoring came from all over the floor - easy layups by Evans and Justin Burrell, who went coast-to-coast; 3-pointers from Malcolm Miller and Brown. When Dave Dudzinski sawed through the Eagles defense for a bucket that made it 28-16, BC coach Steve Donahue had no choice but to call time out.
Every bounce, every roll went the Crusaders’ way, but they earned it. They shot 53.4 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from 3-point range. They curbed the turnovers (just nine) that had killed them in their previous two games.
The Eagles knew it would be a long night before they even stepped on the floor. Their primary playmaker, Patrick Heckmann, who scored 19 points in BC’s season-opening win over New Hampshire, didn’t practice all week because of a sprained ankle and was in street clothes. Jordan Daniels started in his place and scored a team-high 15 points, albeit on 4-of-15 shooting.
When the points started piling up, heads started hanging. When Evans jumped in front of Matthew Humphrey, hawked a pass, and headed the other way for a dunk, the frustration on Humphrey’s face was evident.
“You’ve got to stay engaged, you’ve got to encourage your teammates, you’ve got to fight through a little bit better,’’ said Donahue.
With nine upperclassmen, Holy Cross had enough experience to know that a young team like BC might not respond well to runs because the Crusaders had been there themselves.
“We’ve been in situations when teams go on those big runs, sometimes it’s easy to kind of bend over and crumble,’’ Brown said. “We kind of sensed that in the second half, so we kind of pulled ourselves together and said, ‘Look guys, we can feel this thing breaking, let’s put the pressure on them and keep backing them into a corner.’ ’’
After the floodgates opened and Holy Cross stretched its lead deep into double digits, the student section at the DCU Center taunted a bruised BC team, chanting “Overrated.’’
Donahue knows this was the first bit of turbulence in what will be a long process.
“Fortunately - or unfortunately - I’ve been through what we’re doing,’’ he said. “But it’s real simple. You’ve got to be 100 percent in with what we’re doing.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.