BOSTON (AP) – Boston College certainly didn’t shoot free throws well the entire game. Luckily, though, Jairus Hamilton was able to hit a few long jumpers at the right time.
Jairus Hamilton made two key 3-pointers in the final six minutes and finished with a career-best 23 points, Jay Heath added 15 points and BC snapped a four-game losing streak with a 61-56 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon.
“Like I told our team after the game, there’s a lot of ways to win it,” Eagles coach Jim Christian said. “You can win a game on defense and I thought we won on defense today.”
Jared Hamilton had his only two baskets of the game in the final 3½ minutes for the Eagles (10-10, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Landers Nolley II led the Hokies (14-6, 5-4) with 15 points and Nahiem Alleyne added 10. Virginia Tech had won four of its last five games and its previous five against BC.
“I don’t think it was much of what the Eagles did to us defensively as what we did to ourselves offensively,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “Our more ball movement was horrific. I can’t think of many times we’ve had a negative assist to turnover ratio like we had today. You get what you earn and we earned what we got.”
The Hokies had 14 turnovers to only 11 assists.
Virginia Tech had opened a six-point lead with 8½ minutes to play, but the Eagles sliced it to 49-48 on Jairus Hamilton’s 3 from the right wing with just under six minutes left. Steffon Mitchell went to the line with a chance to put BC ahead on the next possession, but he missed both free throws.
“He’s got the ball in areas where he’s really effective,” Christian said of Jairus Hamilton. “He’s just so much more focused.”
But Jairus Hamilton did end BC’s miserable day temporarily at the free-throw line at the end of the next possession, hitting both to give the Eagles a 50-49 edge. They had missed 10 of their initial 15 from the line and finished 11 of 27.
Jared Hamilton then hit consecutive jumpers, making it 54-51, the second a one-handed runner from the right baseline.
Jairus Hamilton added a 3 from the top, pushing BC in front 57-53 with just over two minutes left.
“I feel like I’m starting to come into my own, figuring out the pace of the game,” Jairus Hamilton said. “I’ve been more focused on being patient and finding things before I go in and try to attack.”
BC had trailed by five at halftime, but tied it at 35 on Derryck Thornton’s 3-pointer. The teams were also tied at 37 before Virginia Tech went on a 7-1 spree.
The Hokies had opened a 10-point lead in the first half en route to a 31-26 edge at intermission despite eight turnovers for a team that averages just over nine a game.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are one of the league’s biggest surprises. Picked to finish near the bottom in the preseason poll, they’re playing very well despite young players getting a lot of minutes. They have four players that are freshman and two red-shirt freshmen.
“Probably fair,” Young said when asked about young players having days like the Hokies had handling the ball. “But, I’m not going to bail them out with that, however, they’ve been awfully good throughout.”
Boston College: The Eagles desperately needed a victory to end their slide before tough matchups against national powers Louisville and Duke sandwiched around a game against struggling North Carolina. Center Nik Popovic played his second straight, but only eight minutes after missing nine in a row with a back injury.
BC retired the jersey of former two-time All-American guard Troy Bell at halftime.
He’s still the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,632 points). He played for the Eagles from 1999-2003 and won the Big East rookie of the year award.
“I never envisioned this moment,” he said at a morning press conference, standing on the court. “I had great teammates and coaches. We were having a great time, doing something we would have done for free. To be here and being honored is amazing.”
The Eagles were miserable from the free-throw line, hitting only 40.7%. They were nearly as good on 3-pointers, connecting at 40%.
“Sometimes it’s hard to explain,” Christian said. “Just got to find a way to win. … If we would have lost the game, that would have easily been why.”
Virginia Tech: At Miami on Tuesday.
Boston College: Hosts No. 6 Louisville Wednesday.
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