BOSTON (AP) — Saint Louis coach Travis Ford finally found something that worked in the second half. He simply made a lineup tweak and the Billikens took over from there.
Jordan Goodwin scored seven of his 20 points during a game-breaking 21-0 run midway into the second half, and Saint Louis posted a 64-54 victory over Boston College on Wednesday.
“I changed lineups for the first and second half because I thought I had something that might work,” Ford said. “We had something that was really working for us, and we just kept going to it.”
Ford didn’t substitute for a long time, either.
“When you’re playing offense as poorly as we are and there’s no rhythm, when you find a rhythm you’ve to stick with it,” he said. “I just stuck with it.”
Gibson Jimerson added 11 points for the Billikens (6-1), who played their first road game of the season after an opening six-game homestand. Goodwin added 14 rebounds.
Derryck Thornton led BC (4-3) with 18 points, and Nik Popovic had 15 with eight rebounds. The Eagles have dropped three of four.
“What’s more concerning is the stretch in the second half where it’s a one-point game, two-point game and it goes to 15 because we become disconnected,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “I don’t know why for one stretch per night we do that and why the beginning of the game doesn’t carry for 40 minutes.”
Saint Louis took charge with their 21 unanswered points over nearly an eight-minute stretch midway into the second half, turning a three-point deficit to a 53-35 edge on Jimerson’s 3-pointer from the right wing with 8:15 to play.
BC made a late charge, closing it to six points in the final minute.
Saint Louis forward Hasahn French, the Atlantic 10’s reigning player of the week after grabbing 24 rebounds and scoring 21 points with seven blocks in the last game, had early foul trouble and scored 11 points with 11 boards in 24 minutes.
BC guard Jay Heath, the team’s second leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, was out because of sickness and forward Jairus Hamilton, who missed the last five games after injuring his knee in the season opener, returned but took a hard fall in the first half going for a rebound.
Hamilton went to the locker room with a bruised right hip, but came back into the game late in the half.
Neither team shot over 31 percent (BC 30.8, Saint Louis 26.7) in a sloppy first half. The Eagles led 26-24 at intermission.
It was the teams’ final game of the Gotham Classic, which features five schools from across the country (along with Belmont, Eastern Washington and High Point).
Saint Louis: Picked seventh in the A-10’s preseason poll, the Billikens have a solid core of juniors with Goodwin, Javonte Perkins and French that should made them very competitive in conference play.
Boston College: Facing a front line that rebounds well gave the Eagles a lot of trouble for the second straight game. It looks like it’ll be the toughest thing for them to overcome this season with getting tougher inside. They got outrebounded 49-37.
“I thought in the first half we rebounded the ball very, very well,” Christian said. “We knew what (Saint Louis was) going to do, but you’ve got to do it for both halves.”
BC freshman Julian Rishwain, coming off a season-high 15 points in the last game, made his first collegiate start with Heath sidelined.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart watched most of the first half sitting across from BC’s bench. He played for Ford at Oklahoma State. He was scheduled to play against the Brooklyn Nets later Wednesday.
Ford said he spent time with the team at practice the other day.
“We made a splice tape and showed our team right before we went out (our last game) of all his hustle plays; of him, probably the last couple of years, of him diving, rebounding, blocking, making unbelievable plays because I’ve been imploring our team for toughness,” Ford said.
Saint Louis: Hosts Southern Illinois on Sunday.
Boston College: At Richmond on Saturday.
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