By Gethin Coolbaugh
CHESTNUT HILL – When Boston College and Virginia Tech duke it out on the court, you can almost always count on a close game.
In their last two meetings, the games came down to one point, as the Eagles topped The Hokies last year and Virginia Tech returned the favor earlier this season.
Last night’s meeting was a completely different story.
Junior guard Rakim Sanders scored 15 points, and scored his 1,000th point in the process, as Boston College trounced Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia Tech 80-60 at Conte Forum on Wednesday night.
Sanders scored his 1,000th point on a free throw with 11:44 left in the first half, and is the 36th player in school history to reach the historic plateau.
“It means a lot,” said Sanders. “It just shows a lot about how work pays off. Truly, it’s a blessing so I’m happy about it.”
Boston College (14-13, 5-8 ACC) opened the game with a commanding 15-2 run that lasted over four minutes.
“It goes back to good execution, good ball movement and good looks,” said Boston College head coach Al Skinner. “We handled the ball (well). I think if we get good looks, we can put the ball in the basket. It’s when we put the ball on the deck and over dribble is when we get ourselves into trouble.”
Junior forward Joe Trapani, who scored a team-high 17 points, hit three consecutive three-pointers to spark the Eagles during the run.
“I just tried to focus on shooting the right way and trying to relax instead of just taking bad shots,” said Trapani. “I tried to focus more on good shot selection and being patient.
Virginia Tech (21-6, 8-5 ACC) brought the game within four, 22-18, with 8:41 left in the first half, but was unable to close the gap as the Eagles took a 39-24 lead into halftime.
“The first half was really the difference in the ball game,” Skinner said. “In the first twenty minutes, we defended extremely well,rebounded the ball well, and on the offensive end got some good execution and some good looks.”
Instead of letting Virginia Tech back into the game in the second half as the Eagles often do, Boston College slammed the door shut on any chance for a Hokies comeback.
The Eagles led by 22 with 4:04 left in the game, and outscored the Hokies 41-36 in the final half.
Malcolm Delaney scored a game-high 21 points and Dorenzo Hudson added 14 points and 21 rebounds for Virginia Tech.
Jeff Allen amassed five personal fouls and was held to 10 points and two rebounds.
“Obviously, Allen is a big part of their offense,” Trapani said. “So we got him in foul trouble early.”
In their prior meeting on January 13th, Virginia Tech escaped with a 63-62 win, sending the Eagles home bitter.
“We really left Virginia Tech with a bad taste in our mouth,” said Trapani. “We had that game and we gave it away.”
Wednesday night’s outcome had Trapani in brighter spirits.
“We really were focusing on being patient on the offensive end, and defensively just cutting down on Delaney’s shot attempts,” Trapani said
The Hokies made 19-of-61 shots to shoot 31.1% from the floor and made two-of-15 three point attempts.
Boston College out-rebounded the Hokies 49-28, totaling 36 defensive rebounds in the process.
“That was a big point with us,” said Sanders. “A lot of times we’re losing to these teams and being out-rebounded and not getting to loose balls. Coach talked about rebounding, and that was a big point with us. We made it a point to go ahead and get a lot of rebounds.”
The Eagles connected on 29-of-57 shots to shoot 50.9% from the field and made seven-of-16 three-point shots.
Boston College often relies on sophomore guard Reggie Jackson, who had eight points and a career-high 11 assists, to set the offensive tempo. However, his load was lifted courtesy of solid performances from Sanders and Trapani.
“I want to see Reggie play well and score what he needs to, (but) what I’m pleased about was our overall team effort,” Skinner said. “We really seem like we have a little more sense of purpose collectively. I don’t know why it took us so long to get to this point, but I think we’ve arrived.”
While winning the conference is out of the question, the Eagles feel as confident as ever heading into the ACC tournament.
“Definitely,” said Trapani when asked if Wednesday’s win proved that the Eagles can compete in the tournament. “We lost a tough one against Duke, and they’re the best team in the conference record-wise. V-Tech is up there, and we were able to beat them pretty handily.”
“If we string a couple wins together and get some confidence going into the tournament, I think we have a good chance.”
Junior guard Rakim Sanders has now scored in double-figures in eight straight games for the Eagles…The Eagles are now 7-1 on the season when they hold their opponents to under 40% shooting from the field…Boston College is now 8-1 all-time vs. Virginia Tech when BC plays at Silvio O. Conte Forum…Sophomore guard Reggie Jackson set a career-high with 11 assists in the win. The last time a Boston College player had more than 10 assists was when Tyrese Rice had 13 against Hartford on January 31, 2007…Virginia Tech is second in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 62.2 points per game, but gave up 80 points Wednesday night to Boston College.
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter as well as his official NBA Twitter account.