Notre Dame earned its first true road win of the season with a 73-69 victory at Boston College on Sunday.
Fifth-year senior forward Tom Knight scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Irish knock off the Eagles 73-69.
The triumph — the team’s first league win away from home as a member of the ACC — also marked the first time the Irish have won consecutive games in 2014. Notre Dame (14-12, 5-8 ACC) finished better than the 50 percent mark from the field (50.9 percent) for the first time since the ACC opener against Duke Jan. 4.
Head coach Mike Brey’s veterans led the way to secure a regular-season sweep of Boston College. Junior guard/forward and Arlington, Mass., native Pat Connaughton scored nine of the team’s first 11 points and 11 in the first 11 minutes before going on a 23-minute scoring drought. Also, his six straight Irish points helped grow the lead to 63-57 with 3:13 to play. He finished with a team-high 17 points and five rebounds in front of 500 of his friends and family.
“We’re in a better offensive flow,” Brey told UND.com after the game. “We’ve got to score the ball to get away from some people and if we can keep defining ourselves offensively, screening, curling, fading, we really executed some stuff at key times. [Senior guard] Eric Atkins [was] directing traffic the whole time.
“Our offensive efficiency was really good throughout the game. I thought we got a feel for how to play better offensively than we did in January. That efficiency helped us. I thought we got big defensive stops and in the second half we didn’t let them really bang down any threes. We were alert to guarding the arc.”
Brey said he was proud of Connaughton’s production, as well as that of sophomore forward and Marlborough, Mass., native Zach Auguste, who finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
“That’s really being a man,” Brey said of Connaughton. “You’ve got everyone here and you deliver. Most guys wilt a little bit. He delivers and I’m just as proud of Zach. With all their people here to come back and win in Boston, very important. Connaughton set the tone for us. I told him his other hometown is Miami now [where the Irish play Wednesday].”
Fifth-year senior forward Tom Knight nearly notched the first double-double of his career with a 10-point, nine-rebound performance. He had not reached the double-digit mark in points since the season opener against Miami (Ohio).
“Tom Knight and [sophomore forward] Austin Burgett gave us great energy and minutes,” Brey said. “So did [freshman forward] V.J. Beachem. Rotating those guys in with our two iron men really helped us and we have to continue to do that. It’s good to have Austin Burgett back healthy because he gives us some athletic ability back there.”
Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson, who missed the past two games, will rejoin the team Monday.
Boston College sunk 7 of 14 three-pointers after entering with the most makes from beyond the arc among ACC teams. The Irish led 38-35 at halftime — their first advantage midway through an ACC game since playing at Maryland — despite the Eagles’ six threes in the first half.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 45-38 midway through the second half — it led by as many as nine points in the game — but a quick 6-0 Boston College run cut the lead to one. Atkins nailed a three-pointer to end the Eagles’ momentum. Atkins finished with 16 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting.
Boston College trimmed a comfortable Irish lead to three points with 10 seconds to play after Notre Dame missed three consecutive free throws. Fifth-year senior center Garrick Sherman made a pair to seal the victory after he missed his previous two.
After the game, Brey indicated that freshman guard Demetrius Jackson would rejoin the team Monday and be able to play at Miami on Wednesday. Jackson missed the Clemson and Boston College wins due to what Brey called “poor academic habits.”
“He had a great week,” Brey said. “He’s caught up. We’ll see him tonight when we get back to the locker room. He’ll be back in practice. He’ll travel to us with Miami. He needed time to catch up and get back into good habits. He’s done that in the last week. I’m very proud of him and thrilled he’ll be rejoining us.”
The Irish face two more road games this week. They travel to Miami on Wednesday before facing Virginia on Saturday.