BC beats Miami 84-62 for first ACC win

The Boston College Eagles secured their first ACC victory of the season and made it look easy.

BC stemmed a five-game conference losing streak with an 84-62 victory over the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Conte Forum. BC improved to 3-9 and 1-5 in the ACC. The Canes fell to 5-6 and 1-5.

“This was obviously a testament to the resiliency of this team,” said BC coach Jim Christian. “We were really locked in with a lot of energy and I take my hat off to this team.

“They lost some heartbreakers, some games you should have won. To come back with resiliency and that focus and it was a huge step forward and we have to keep building on it.”

BC enjoyed one of its finest statistical games of the campaign. The Eagles shot 48% from the floor, made 18 of 35 treys, with 34 rebounds, a 16-8 assist to turnover ratio with seven blocks and eight steals.

Guard Rich Kelly, a graduate transfer from Quinnipiac, made 10-of-16 from the floor with seven treys for 27 points with four assists. Jay Heath made 9-of-19 with five from downtown for 25 points with four assists.

The Eagles defense was enhanced with the return of senior power forward Steffon Mitchell to the starting lineup. Mitchell, a returning All-ACC defensive selection, was an 11th hour scratch from Saturday’s loss to Virginia with a calf injury. Mitchell finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

“I think we played well off each other tonight,” said Kelly, who made his third start as an Eagle. “Jay got me a couple of open looks early and I tried to find him early too.

“It’s a lot easier when you got a guy that can hit it on the team with you.”

Mitchell opened the second half with a 3-point play and DeMarr Langford Jr. followed with a drive to give BC a 49-34 lead with 16:45 to play. Kelly nailed his third corner trey of the match to give BC a 52-36 lead into the first media time out.

The Eagles continued to land the 3-ball through the midway point in the half. Heath canned a three while Langford and Kelly had one apiece to give BC a 73-50 lead with 7:23 to play. The Eagles never let up and played hard to the buzzer.

“Rich got hot and that got me excited, but our defense was great tonight and a lot of our points came in transition,” said Heath. “Once we got rolling, we got into a rhythm and the basket got wider and we hit more and more of them.”

The teams employed diverse strategies in the opening minutes of the game. Miami pounded inside with Nysier Brooks exploiting mismatches on the low post. BC countered with patient ball rotation and tied the game 6-6 on a corner trey by Mitchell. Heath converted on a pair of transition layups and Rich Kelly hit an off-balance floater from the baseline to give BC a 12-8 lead into the first media timeout.

Miami cut the lead to 14-12 on a baseline drive by Isaiah Wong with 13:19 to play. Heath countered with a 3-ball from up top. The pace slowed and BC led 18-14 at the second media timeout.

BC took a 21-14 when Kelly beat the shot clock with an NBA 3-point shot with 9:28 remaining. BC followed with a 9-2 spurt on a pair from downtown by Mitchell to take a 30-18 lead, prompting Canes’ coach Jim Larranaga to call timeout with 7:09 to play.

The Canes countered with a 9-3 surge on lightly contested drives to cut the lead to 33-27 with 4:01 to play. Kelly retaliated with a corner trey to put BC up 36-27 into the final media timeout.

The Eagles were up 42-34 with 1:05 to go when Mitchell left the game after being poked in the right eye. Center James Karnik aced a put back with six seconds remaining to give BC a 44-34 lead at the half.

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