Irish win first road game, defeat Boston College, 73-69
Joseph Monardo | Sunday, February 16, 2014
Irish junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton had spoken about Sunday’s game against Boston College as a sort of homecoming for himself.
But come game time, the reality was Boston College would reserve the home-court advantage for itself against a Notre Dame team still seeking its first road win of the season.
But Connaughton started off feeling right at home, and the Irish took it from there. The Arlington, Mass., native hit his first five shots from the field and scored 11 points in the game’s first 11 minutes, as Notre Dame (14-12, 5-8 ACC) defeated Boston College (6-19, 2-10), 73-69, in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Connaughton finished with a team-high 17 points, despite enduring a scoreless streak in the middle of the game spanning nearly 25 minutes across both halves. Irish senior guard Eric Atkins added 16 points and shot 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Graduate student forward Tom Knight posted 10 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench for the visiting team.
“Our offensive efficiency was really good throughout the game,” Irish coach Mike Brey told UND.com. “I think we’ve got a feel for how to play better offensively than we did in January, and that efficiency helped us. I thought we got big defensive stops, and in the second half we didn’t let them bang down any threes. We were alert to guarding the arc.”
The Irish shot 50.9 percent from the field and held Boston College to 43.4-percent shooting for the game. The Eagles hit only one of five attempts from long-range in the second half after nailing six of nine in the first period. Sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan led the Eagles with 18 points in the losing effort.
The win is Notre Dame’s first in a true road game this season. The Irish had lost all six of their away games, with the lone win away from home coming in a neutral-site game against Indiana in Indianapolis on Dec. 14. The victory also gives Notre Dame back-to-back wins since it beat Canisius and Duke on Dec. 29 and Jan. 4, respectively.
Connaughton and Atkins each played 40 minutes in the contest, but the Irish also received 42 combined minutes from three players off the bench. In addition to Knight’s strong performance, freshman forward V.J. Beachem scored five points in 11 minutes and sophomore forward Austin Burgett logged 12 minutes in just his third game back after heart-related health concerns.
“Tom Knight and Austin Burgett gave us great energy and minutes, and so did V.J. Beachem,” Brey said. “You know, rotating those guys in with our two ironmen really helped us, and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Brey said he was impressed with the performances put on by Connaughton and Irish sophomore forward Zach Auguste, who hails from Marlborough, Mass. Auguste scored 10 points four-of-six shooting from the field.
“That’s really being a man,” Brey said. “You’ve got everybody here and you deliver. Most guys wilt a little bit. He delivers, and I’m just as proud of Zach. With all their people here, to come back and win in Boston, very important. But Connaughton set the tone for us.”
Accompanying Sunday’s game was the announcement that Irish freshman guard Demetrius Jackson would rejoin the team Monday after not being with the team in consecutive contests for academic issues.
“He had a great week,” Brey said. “He’s caught up. We’ll see him tonight when we get back to the locker room. He’ll be back in practice. He’ll travel with us to Miami [for Wednesday’s game]. He needed time to catch up and get back into good habits. He’s done that in the last week. I’m very proud of him and I’m thrilled he’ll be rejoining us.”
Looking to extend its winning streak to three games, Notre Dame will travel to face Miami on Wednesday in Coral Gables, Fla.