Ten minutes remained before the tip-off of Boston College’s home game against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Virginia Tech. The Eagles, who were returning to action after an eight-day hiatus, were ready to take the floor for warm-ups and player introductions when a simple message was scrawled on a whiteboard in BC’s locker room. It read: “The BC Way.’’
It was a reminder of how the Eagles needed to play not only in Wednesday night’s 76-52 romp over the Hokies, before a Conte Forum crowd of 2,964, but for the remainder of the season.
“That is we just move the ball and play for each other,’’ said Joe Rahon, BC’s sophomore guard and cocaptain. “The only thing we’re thinking on our minds is how to make our teammates’ lives easier.’’
Rahon certainly lived up to that credo after he scored a team-high 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 5 of 8 on 3-pointers to trigger BC’s bombardment of the Hokies from beyond the arc, where the Eagles made 14 of 37 shots to tie a Conte Forum record for a game.
BC breezed to a 24-point romp that was its second-biggest ACC victory since a 39-point annihilation of Wake Forest in 2008.
“I think Joe has got to be a guy we rely on to run our team more,’’ said coach Steve Donahue after the Eagles (6-14, 2-5) snapped a three-game league losing streak by recording 19 assists on 24 of its 54 field goal attempts, outrebounding Tech, 35-34, forcing 12 turnovers, getting 7 blocked shots, and limiting the Hokies to 34 percent shooting (18 of 53, including 5 of 23 in the second half).
“Not that Olivier [Hanlan] can’t, but Olivier’s strengths are scoring the ball and pushing transition and getting to the rim and knocking shots out,’’ Donahue said. “Joe’s ability to run the team at the beginning of the shot clock and at the end of the shot clock is important.’’
That much was evident to Virginia Tech coach James Johnson, whose team (8-12, 1-7) lost to BC for the second time this season — and second time this month — despite getting a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds from Jarell Eddie, who scored 19 in the first half.
“When they drove us, we weren’t able to contain the basketball, which put us in a scramble situation,’’ Johnson said. “They’re an extremely good passing team. They passed it, passed it, passed it.’’
In one instance, Johnson recalled, the Eagles streaked to a 16-7 lead when Patrick Heckmann (14 points) came off the bench and buried a trey with 14:29 left. “We closed out and rotated four times,’’ lamented Johnson, “and they found the fifth guy on the open rotation and he knocked the three down.’’
The Eagles had those eight days off following their 68-60 setback to Georgia Tech at Conte Jan. 21 and devoted the time off to working on those shortcomings that left them mired in the ACC cellar after six conference games.
“We worked hard and got back to doing the things we do really well,’’ Rahon said. “And one of the things was less dribbling and more passes. There’s no doubt the ball always seems to go in more if it’s whipped around the perimeter with three or four passes, no dribbles . . . it always seems if that guy’s shooting, the ball is always going to go in.’’
That appeared to be the case in the first half as the Eagles shot 68 percent (13 for 19, including 7 of 12 on 3-pointers) to control a 46-33 halftime lead, BC’s biggest advantage at the break since taking a 12-point halftime lead in an 89-78 nonconference triumph over Washington Nov. 22 in New York.
Hanlan (11 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give BC a whopping 21-point lead, 54-33, with 18:24 to go. But BC’s scoring leader was hit with a technical protesting his third personal and was forced to the bench with four fouls.
Although the Hokies cut BC’s lead to 18, 54-36, Heckmann gave the Eagles all the breathing room they would need when he expanded BC’s lead to 60-36 on back-to-back treys. Alex Dragicevich (8 points) gave the Eagles their biggest lead (76-46) when he hit a 3-pointer with 6:39 to go.
“I think the week off really helped us focus on things we’ve been really weak at this season,’’ said Ryan Anderson, who chipped in 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. “I think ‘The BC Way’ is to play hard and I think we played harder tonight than we have in the past. When you play hard, then plays just seem to go your way.’’