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Boston College 79, St. Francis 49: Eagles Rout Terriers In Season Opener

CHESTNUT HILL - St. Francis was never expected to be able to compete with Boston College entering Friday night's season opener.

But it takes two to tango in basketball, and the Eagles still needed to do their part to avoid an early season upset.

Thankfully, they did.

Joe Trapani scored a game-high 20 points as Boston College took care of business against St. Francis of New York, winning 79-49 in their regular season opener in front of 3,740 fans at Conte Forum.

"I thought the overall effort was terrific," said Eagles head coach Steve Donahue, who won his first game at Boston College. "I thought we brought great energy throughout the 40 minutes. I thought our mental toughness was great. We did a lot of good things that, if we do it every game, I think we'll be very successful."

Naturally, that first win is always the goal for any coach, but it wasn't the first thought on Donahue's mind.

"I don't really concern myself with what it means," said Donahue. "I think it's really important for this group to get off to a good start. We've done a lot of work for six months. I thought they've done everything we've asked as a staff to try to get ready, and I want them to be rewarded for that. That's a good sign, and they should feel good about themselves."

Corey Raji and Reggie Jackson each scored 17 points for the Eagles, with Raji grabbing nine rebounds and Jackson dishing out four assists.

Boston College (1-0) opened the game on an impressive 24-2 run that lasted for 14 minutes and eight seconds.

During that span, the Eagles' defense was stellar, holding St. Francis (0-1) to 5-of-27 shooting (18.5%) from the field and 2-of-13 beyond the arch (15.4%).

"I thought we were playing with good intensity," Trapani said about the Eagles' first-half defense. "I think that's kind of what our mindset was coming in, play good defense, play intense defense, try to take baseline away. As long as we play good defense, hopefully we'll be able to execute and get our points on the offensive end."

The Eagles carried themselves very well on the offensive end in the first half, making 14-of-29 shots (48.3%).

However, they couldn't carry over the success from the perimeter during last Saturday's tune-up against Philadelphia (Boston College made 15-of-33 three-pointers), only hitting 2-of-14 three pointers (14.3%) in the half. 

The Eagles didn't have any more luck from deep in the second half, either, finishing the game having hit just 4-of-21 three pointers.

"I thought they were rushed," Donahue said. "I thought we were maybe open, but we just didn't give it a chance. A lot of times three-point success is based on passing, and I thought we didn't do a great job of moving the basketball."

"Obviously, they were a more intense defensive team than Philadelphia," added Trapani. "But I think it had a lot to do with passing. We weren't setting our teammates up as well as we were in the first game, and those extra passes weren't as much, so we weren't getting as good of looks. So, our perentage obviously dropped."

Raji led all scorers with 15 points at the half for Boston College. Jackson had 10 points and two steals and Trapani added nine points and five boards before the break.

The Eagles opened up the second half on a 17-5 run that lasted nearly 10 minutes, spoiling the hopes of a Terriers comeback. Boston College continued its strong play , taking a 60-28 lead with 8:40 left in the game, officially putting the last nail in the coffin.

Boston College received solid contributions from its youngest players. Freshman Danny Rubin scored nine points in 22 minutes off the bench and fellow freshman Gabriel Moton four points in 20 minutes.

"It's nice to see that they're coming in with a little confidence, making some shots, making some plays," said Trapani. "Obviously, they're freshmen; they're going to make some mistakes with shot selection or keeping their head down and dribbling too much. But those are things that, as freshman, you kind of expect and they can learn from it. It was definitely a confidence builder for them."

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the youngsters, though. On a play midway through the first half, Trapani passed to Rubin with the intention of getting a pass back. Instead, Rubin hesitated and put up a bad three-point attempt.

"I think I just told him to calm himself down," said Trapani. "What coach has taught me, which has helped a lot, is when I catch the ball try to relax myself first and see the floor instead of just rushing all the time. I think that's helped me a great deal. I was just trying to remind Danny of that: look, see if there is an open cutter, and is that really the best shot at that time."

But in the end, Trapani only wanted what was best for Rubin.

"If he passed it to me, I draw his man and kickit right back to him for an open shot," Trapani said. "So it just works hand in hand."

Biko Paris, who was coming off of an 18-point performance against Philadelphia in an exhibition last Saturday, scored only four points and had five rebounds. Cortney Dunn started the game in place of injured senior center Josh Southern, but did not score a point and had three rebounds. Dallas Elmore also scored four points.

For the game, the Eagles made 26-of-54 shots (48.1%) and connected on 4-of-21 outside shots (19.0%). In addition, they amassed 38 rebounds, 14 assists, four steals and had nine turnovers.

The Terriers were led by Ricky Cadell, who scored a team-high 14 points. Akeem Bennett was the only other player to score in double-digits for the Terriers, totaling 11 points and also grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.

As for St. Francis, it hit 16-of-58 shots (27.6%) and 7-of-27 shots from beyond the arch (25.9%). The Terriers had 34 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and turned the ball over 18 times in the loss.

Even with the convincing win, there's always something to work on.

"Obviously, the disappointing thing is that our execution wasn't as sharp as I would hope," said Donahue. "I thought St. Francis did a good job getting in passing lanes and taking us out of things. In turn, we didn't show great poise and we really didn't execute the way I know we can. Obviously, that's what we're going to work on."

Boston College will look to notch its second win of the young season when it host Yale at Conte Forum on Thursday, November 18th at 7 p.m. ET.