PROVIDENCE — Boston College basketball coach Jim Christian was feeling pretty good about his team headed into Saturday night’s game against Providence College.
The Eagles were off to their best start in a decade and averaging nearly 80 points. Power forward Deontae Hawkins, a graduate transfer from Illinois State, had brought balance to a lineup that relied heavily on guards Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson last season.
That was all washed away against the Friars.
Providence took control of the game in the final 10 minutes of the first half and went to convincingly beat the Eagles, 86-66, before a crowd of 10,806 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
“I hope this game teaches us a lesson,” Christian said. “We’re a lot better than we showed tonight, especially on defense.”
Providence was 32 of 54 (59 percent) from the field and made 10 of 18 3-pointers. Whatever shot the Friars wanted, they got it and usually made it.
“That’s the part that was disappointing,” Christian said. “Don’t get me wrong, Providence is a very good team. But that wasn’t the way we had been playing.”
Senior forward Rodney Bullock had 20 points for Providence. Guards Kyron Cartwright (14 points, 9 assists) and Alpha Diallo (15 points) were 13 of 18.
Providence (5-1) improved to 49-2 in nonconference home games under coach Ed Cooley, a former BC assistant. The Friars are seeking a fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
“As a whole team, we didn’t play good defense,” Bowman said. “Providence came out hard, ready to play and we have to match that.”
Depth was a factor. Providence used nine players and outscored BC, 23-8, off the bench. The Eagles went seven deep.
“In a lot of our games I think our depth means a lot and that’s something that’s new for us here at Providence,” Cooley said. “We haven’t had the quality of depth that this team brings.”
That contributed to the Eagles (5-2) playing so poor defensively as the Friars wore them down. It was a much different game than last season, when a good second half gave Boston College a 79-67 victory against Providence.
“In preparing for them, they’re a lot better systematically than they were a year ago,” Cooley said. “With those guards, they’ll be in every game.”
Hawkins had 19 points and 12 rebounds, but only 4 points came in the second half. Bowman had 19 points and Robinson 12.
Hawkins helped Boston College take a 23-20 lead in the first half. He had 15 points in the first nine minutes and 16 seconds.
But the Eagles could not sustain that momentum. They missed seven of nine shots from the floor and six straight at the foul line as the Friars put together a 19-6 run to take a 39-29 lead.
BC trimmed the deficit to 44-35 at halftime, but PC surged to a 14-point lead before the first timeout of the second half. The Eagles never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Boston College is improved from a team that finished 9-22 last season. A carefully constructed nonleague schedule should produce more wins before ACC play starts in earnest. But the Friars exposed some flaws that had Christian troubled.
“That’s the kind of team we’re going to play down the road,” he said. “Hopefully we’re able to take something out of this game and use it.”
The Eagles play at Nebraska on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, while Providence hosts Rider.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.