Mitchell’s 15 points, 13 boards lead BC past Albany, 72-51

Chase for the Championship

FILE IMAGE (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

BOSTON (AP) — Steffon Mitchell did a lot more than score points and grab rebounds for Boston College. He was the spark they needed defensively and hustled to chase down loose balls, too.

Mitchell had 15 points with 13 boards, and the Eagles pulled away from Albany in the second half for a 72-51 victory on Tuesday night.

To go along with his strong scoring and rebounding, the 6-foot-8 junior forward had a game-high five steals, going to the floor a couple of times for loose balls that led to baskets.

“When he plays with high energy, he’s a guy that can impact the game in a lot of ways,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “I thought his defensive intensity kind of spread to everybody today. We made a ton of hustle plays, a ton of passing plays. We’re getting back to being who we are.”

Jairus Hamilton scored 16 points and Julian Rishwain and Jay Heath each chipped in with 11 for the Eagles (6-5), who won their second straight game after finding out 6-foot-11 senior center Nik Popovic was lost indefinitely with a back injury.

Cameron Healy led Albany (5-6) with 13 points. The Great Danes committed 20 turnovers, leading to BC’s 30-6 edge in points off of turnovers.

“They sped us up and got us uncomfortable,” Albany coach Will Brown said. “Some of it was self-inflicted, and I think our guys would tell you that, and some of it was BC-inflicted.”

Heath nailed a pair of 3s as BC opened the second half by scoring 16 of the first 19 points, turning a one-point deficit into a 46-34 edge with just over 13 minutes to play.

BC won its second straight following a four-game losing streak. They beat Notre Dame on the road Saturday.

“Now we’re really finding our way back,” Hamilton said.

Mitchell nailed a trey from the right corner as the shot clock expired, pushing the Eagles’ lead to 58-40 with just under nine minutes left.

The Great Danes never threatened the rest of the way.

With a non-marquee opponent, rainy weather and the students in finals, the crowd resembled nights at Conte Forum during a snowstorm.

BIG PICTURE

Albany: The Great Danes played at a pace that’ll give them plenty of shooting opportunities that could be challenging for league opponents in the America East Conference if they knock down their 3s a little more consistently. They were only 6 for 25. … Brown’s next victory will be his 300th at Albany.

“By the time that we get to where we need to be, we’ll be as good as anybody in our league,” Brown said. “I’m pretty confident about that.”

Boston College: The Eagles have a big void to fill with their third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Popovic sidelined. He was one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most improved players last season.

REMEMBRANCE

There was a moment of silence before the national anthem for former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who died Monday after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 34.

Frates helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge that has raised more than $200 million worldwide.

NICE STREAK

Healy, a sophomore guard, has played in 43 collegiate games and made at least one 3-pointer in all of them. Entering the night, it was the nation’s fourth longest active streak.

AUSSIE CONNECTION

Three Great Danes’ players hail from Australia – Healy, Brent Hank, a 6-foot-10 center, and 6-8 forward/center Adam Lulka. They are all redshirt sophomores.

UP NEXT

Albany: Hosts Niagara on Saturday night.

Boston College: Hosts Central Connecticut on Sunday afternoon.

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