BOSTON – Nik Popovic scored 13 points that included two clutch free throws with 8.2 seconds left and became the 45th player at Boston College to reach 1,000 career points in a 72-68 nonconference victory over Eastern Washington on Wednesday night.
Popovic reached the mark with a free throw that gave BC a 52-47 edge with 10:30 remaining. His late free throws made it 71-66.
Jay Heath scored 17 points, including a key 3-pointer in the closing 2 minutes for Boston College (4-1). Derryck Thornton had 14 points, and Jared Hamilton added 12.
Jacob Davison led Eastern Washington (2-2) with 26 points, and Kim Aiken Jr. had 17.
“You feel for our guys because we came out here and played a great game,” EWU head coach Shantay Legans said of just the fourth time an Eastern team has played a current member of the ACC. “We came out and played hard and tough and I’m proud of that.”
After Tyler Robertson’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave EWU a 65-64 edge with 1:58 to play, Heath answered with a 3 just 17 seconds later.
Aiken then missed a 3, and BC’s Steffon Mitchell was fouled and nailed both from the line with 25 seconds left.
Neither team held more than a two-possession lead – except for 17 seconds – in the second half.
“We battled hard on the boards with a bigger team, and had 13 offensive boards to their nine,” Legans said. “We just have to play smarter – our strength is as a smart basketball club, and we haven’t played smart offensively the last two games.”
It was the first meeting between the schools and part of the Gotham Classic, which features five schools (along with Belmont, High Point and Saint Louis).
Eastern Washington: The preseason pick in the coaches’ poll to win the Big Sky Conference. The way the Eagles wiped out an early deficit and hung with an Atlantic Coast Conference school should build confidence for a team that returns three starters.
Boston College: The Eagles looked like they lost a lot of spark following a 3-0 start in their 100-85 loss to Belmont. It appeared to carry over with a sluggish effort that, at times, had ill-advised quick shots, unforced turnovers and lackluster play that was evident when guard Heath had the ball stolen and briefly let up in pursuit.
Davison scored all the points during a 10-0 spree midway into the opening half that turned a 12-point deficit into a two-point game. He did it with two 3s, a fast-break layup and putback jam in a 2:25 stretch.
Where’d it go?
BC opened the game by scoring the first 12 points, holding EWU scoreless for nearly 4 minutes. But the lead was nearly wiped out when the home Eagles went without a basket for over 6 1/2 minutes later in the half.
Eastern Washington: At High Point on Saturday.
Boston College: Hosts DePaul on Saturday.
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