Popovic scores 19 to lead Boston College past DePaul 65-62
CHICAGO (AP) — Boston College struggled during much of its first true road game. Then the Eagles came up with big plays when it mattered most.
Nik Popovic scored 19 points and Wynston Tabbs had 15 as Boston College rallied to beat DePaul 65-62 on Saturday.
Ky Bowman added 11 points and Chris Herren Jr. had 10 for the Eagles (9-2), who have won three straight.
“We learned we have to work much harder on the road and that we started the game a little softer but towards the end we got better,” Popovic said. “That’s the part we have to fix.”
Max Strus scored 16 points and Eli Cain added 14 for DePaul (8-3), which led by as much as 12 and was off to its best season start since 2002-03.
Tabbs hit a jumper to get the Eagles within one with 3:04 left before DePaul responded with a Femi Olujobi jumper and a Strus dunk. Tabbs’ layup cut the deficit to one with 45 seconds left after a Boston College steal. Tabbs then stole the inbounds pass and was fouled on a dunk attempt. His free throws gave the Eagles their first lead at 61-60.
“I was just playing my gap and I saw the ball go up in the air and I just took off,” Tabbs said about the steal.
After Strus missed a 3, Tabbs hit both foul shots for a 63-60 lead with nine seconds remaining. Devin Gage made two free throws on the other end before Popovic hit two foul shots to seal it.
DePaul scored two points in the final 2:06.
“We know we have to bring our own energy now. It’s just a great win to keep our confidence going,” Tabbs said.
Both teams struggled on offense with Boston College shooting 40 percent and DePaul 36.6 percent. The Eagles made just 3 of 18 shots from beyond the arc.
DePaul outrebounded Boston College 47-40.
Bowman, who averages 19.6 points per game, had four points on 2-for-7 shooting at halftime.
The Eagles ended the first half on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 32-28.
“It started early on, about 10 minutes into the game, when we got up comfortably by double figures. Then we didn’t continue from either a mentality standpoint or a game-planning standpoint to do on either end what we needed to,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “Credit Boston College for their resiliency and hanging in there on the road.”
Boston College is bouncing back from a 100-95 loss in overtime to Providence by winning three straight.
DePaul closes out its nonconference schedule with a solid 8-3 record, including an overtime win over Penn State. Yet the schedule becomes more treacherous and the Blue Demons haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2006-07.
HE SAID IT
“We should have won this game regardless because we were just struggling making 3-point shots and playing soft in the first half,” Popovic said. “If we played a little harder, we definitely win this game.”
Boston College’s Jordan Chatman (ankle) missed his third straight game. He is averaging 13.9 points per game. ... The Eagles’ Jared Hamilton played his first game after sitting out the beginning of the season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He transferred from Georgia Southern. ... Herren, previously a walk-on, was given a full scholarship Thursday. ... DePaul’s Jalen Coleman-Lands (broken left hand) missed his second straight game.
Boston College will play its nonconference finale Dec. 31 at home against Hartford.
DePaul will open its Big East schedule Saturday against Xavier.