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Boston College 69, Holy Cross 54: Corey Raji, Eagles Topple Crusaders

CHESTNUT HILL - They say home-court advantage does wonders in college basketball, but that's not the case when the school you're playing is 45 minutes down the road.

Right from the tipoff, it was clear that there were plenty of Holy Cross fans in the stands at Conte Forum, and they weren't going to be silent.

But that was no matter for Boston College, which channeled out the opposing noise and took care of business on its home court.

Senior forward Corey Raji, who came off the bench for the first time since February 2008, scored a game-high 15 points as Boston College defeated in-state rival Holy Cross 69-54 at Conte Forum on Monday night.

"We're just trying to take one game at a time," said Raji. "Last game, we didn't come out with enough energy, and the result we weren't happy with. The last three days at practice, we worked really hard, went over out stuff, and tonight, we just came out and did a good job."

The Eagles' performance was a solid step up from their match up with Yale, a game that the Eagles lost 75-67.

"I was disappointed after watching the film about how we went about our business (against Yale), and that's my fault," Donahue said. "I thought we did a great job (tonight). We were really good in practice, and this is far from where we want to be, but it's a great step in the right direction."

Boston College (2-1) had a much better day shooting the basketball than it did against the Bulldogs, making 25-of-57 shots (43.9%) and 10-of-29 three pointers (34.5%).

"We work on shooting every day in practice, but we were just more composed, more patient, and the shots came to us," Raji said. "We weren't hitting them at first, but we had open looks and we started knocking them down."

Most players never want to be removed from the starting lineup, but Raji understands that it's all part of the game.

"We're all a team, so I knew by me not starting, someone else was going to step up," he said.

That player was freshman Danny Rubin, who started in place of Raji, had a career night, scoring a game-high 14 points.

"I was surprised I started," Rubin said. "But that's going to happen as a freshman. Some games I'm not going to get in, and when you do get in, you've just got to be composed and relaxed.

"Danny did a good job tonight," Raji added. "He was really composed and really relaxed, so my hats off to him."

Rubin had a solid game from beyond the arc, draining 4 of 9 3-pointers.

"We work on it every day in practice, so even if I do miss a couple, I know we're all capable of missing two then making five in a row. There's no nervousness when we come out and shoot the ball."

It was Rubin's first career start and his first game action since the Eagles' season-opening win over St. Francis.

"That's one of the things that I was upset with myself about the other night, I didn't play him," Donahue said. "He's been playing well in practice."

Donahue learned that lesson last season at Cornell, after a member of his team, Jon Jaques, played well in practice but wasn't rewarded with playing time.

"John taught me a huge lesson," Donahue said. "He was kicking butt in practice for about a month, and I for some reason wasn't putting him in the game because he's a sub, he's a deep sub. But if you do it in practice, you should be rewarded, and Danny's been doing it in practice,. It's as simple as that."

Joe Trapani and Biko Paris each scored 12 points and Reggie Jackson added nine points for Boston College.

"I think what you see is just a work in progress with this team," said Boston College head coach Steve Donahue. "We're going to have our good days and bad days. We had three really hard practices, an part of it is me trying to figure out what's right for this team and how we're going to play. Not that I don't worry about wins and losses at this point, but I worry about how we play."

R.J. Evans led Holy Cross with 12 points. Andrew Beinert and Devin Brown both scored 11 points for the Crusaders.

Holy Cross (0-4) scored the first two points of the game on senior center Andrew Keister's put back under the rim.

Raji put Boston College on the board on his shot under the hoop with 17:45 to play in the first, tying the game 2-2. The Eagles controlled the next few minutes, as a three-pointer from Rubin and two threes from senior guard Biko Paris put Boston College up 11-6. Then, Reggie Jackson slammed home a dunk to build the Eagles' lead to 13-6 with 14:08 to play in the half.

Down but not out, the Crusaders went on a 9-0 run that started with 13:13 left and ended at the 8:40 mark, when Boston College freshman Gabe Moton tipped in a miss to tie the game at 15.

With the game back in its control, Boston College closed out the half on a 16-8 run that gave the Eagles a 31-26 advantage at the break.Boston College made 11-of-28 shots while Holy Cross made 11-of-29 shots in the first half.

Paris had six points, and both Raji and Jackson added four for the Eagles. Keister had a team-high eight points and both Devin Brown and Andrew Beinert scored five points for the Crusaders.

The Eagles blew the game open early in the second half, using a 12-2 run that started at the 16:48 mark and ended with 12:03 left in the game to take a 48-37 lead. 

Holy Cross did its best to pull back into the game, cutting Boston College's lead to 55-47 with 5:55 remaining, but they were unable to get any closer.

The Crusaders finished the game having made 21-of-49 shots (42.9%) and 6 of 14 3-pointers 42.9%). Holy Cross amassed 29 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and had 12 turnovers.

The Eagles collected 33 rebounds, 16 assists, seven steals and only had five turnovers.

Boston College finished its three-game, season-opening home stand at 2-1. The Eagles are off to face Texas A&M in the first round of the Old Spic Classic on Thanksgiving Day in Orlando, Florida (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

"We've just got to go down to Orlando, and we've got Texas A&M first, and we've just got to take that one game at a time," Raji said. "

After that, Boston College will face either Wisconsin or Manhattan the next day (12 p.m./2:30 p.m. ET). If the Eagles advance, they would face Georgia, Notre Dame, Temple or California in the tournament's final round (time TBA).