BOSTON (AP) — Boston College coach Jim Christian said his team returned to how they need to play.
They’ll find out shortly if it’s good enough as the schedule gets tougher.
Jared Hamilton scored 18 points, Steffon Mitchell posted his second straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds and BC beat winless Central Connecticut 74-55 on Sunday.
“It just comes back to being who we’re supposed to be,” Christian said. “We had to identify that. We went away from who we were defensively and all the stuff we’ve been preaching since this summer. They understand that when we’re good there’s certain things that we do.”
BC closes out nonconference play at California on Saturday before going into Atlantic Coast Conference action the rest of the season.
Jared Hamilton was 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts after hitting just 8 of 22 to open the season.
“I’m definitely more confident in it,” he said. “I put a lot of work into it during the offseason.”
Jay Heath added 16 points and Derryck Thornton chipped in with 12 for the Eagles (7-5), who won their third straight game since learning starting center Nik Popovic was sidelined indefinitely with a back injury.
Greg Outlaw scored 18 points for the Blue Devils (0-10), who remained only one of three Division I schools without a victory.
“Like I told the team after the game, we showed fight,” Central Connecticut coach Donyell Marshall said. “Earlier in the year we would have lost this game by 40 or 50, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
BC used runs of 11-0 and 13-4 early in the game en route to a 35-23 edge at halftime. Jared Hamilton had a trio of 3-pointers. His brother, Jairus Hamilton, and Thornton each had one during the sprees.
The Eagles opened the second half by outscoring the Blue Devils 17-3. Heath had consecutive baskets, Thornton nailed a left-wing 3 and Mitchell had a conventional three-point play followed by a fast-break layup in the spurt.
Central Connecticut did go on a 12-0 run midway into the half that made it respectable for a while.
“Today was the first time we pressed an entire game,” Marshall said. “It worked against an ACC team, hopefully it’ll work when we get to conference (play).”
With the Patriots televised at the same time, the students preparing for finals and a weak nonconference opponent, there was a very small crowd which looked more like a preseason scrimmage.
Central Connecticut: With 10 players in their first year in the program and the nation’s fourth-youngest team with seven freshman and 11 underclassmen, it looks like a long rebuilding season. They entered the day averaging 56.3 points per game — ranking 343rd out of 353 Division I programs.
Boston College: The Eagles will be challenged to find consistent inside scoring with the loss of 6-foot-11 Popovic — their third-leading scorer at 11.8 per game — and they’ll need to find it soon. They play out West against California next weekend before opening league play at Duke on Dec. 31.
Christian said he’s been wearing sneakers on the sidelines because he’s having surgery on one of his ankles Monday. He quickly turned it into a joke, combining the earned reputation of hockey players and BC’s home building.
“We play in a hockey rink,” Christian said of Conte Forum, which has a rink underneath the floor. “I’m not going to miss a shift.”
Central Connecticut, Houston Baptist (0-9) and Florida A&M (0-7) are the only winless Division I schools. The Blue Devils entered the week 350th in the Pomeroy rankings out of 353 schools.
Mitchell had 15 points, 13 boards in the last game — a 72-51 victory over Albany.
Sofia Rae, a 6-year-old from Plymouth, Mass., sang a stunning rendition of the national anthem.
Central Connecticut: At Dartmouth on Wednesday.
Boston College: Faces California at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Saturday.
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