BOSTON — Deontae Hawkins had said most of what he had to say by the time Boston College coach Jim Christian joined his players in the locker room at halftime, with his team trailing Sacred Heart at the break.
“He’s not a big talker, but when he does talk they listen,” Christian said after BC rallied to a 73-53 victory over the Pioneers on Tuesday night. “They have so much respect for what he’s done and the experience he’s had.”
A graduate transfer who was the leading scorer at Illinois State last season, Hawkins scored 22 points with eight rebounds for the Eagles (3-0). But Christian was at least as impressed with what happened at halftime, when Hawkins preached for his teammates to “play our principles”: communication, staying in your gap, helping the help.
“He knows what to say to the team, but he also goes out and does it. And I think that’s a big part of leadership,” Christian said. “He was phenomenal. That’s what winners play like.”
Ky Bowman scored 14 and Steffon Mitchell added 13 and nine rebounds for BC, which has never lost in nine tries against Sacred Heart (0-2). The Eagles trailed almost the entire first half, then went on a 19-3 run in the second to turn a five-point game into a blowout.
“We just had to calm down, play our principles,” Hawkins said. “I think it was a lack of communication out there.”
Joseph Lopez had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Pioneers, and Mario Matasovic scored 14. Sacred Heart shot just under 50 percent for the first half; in the second, the Pioneers made just 7 of 30 shots from the field and missed all nine 3-point attempts.
Sacred Heart opened an eight-point lead in the first four minutes and nursed it, still leading 27-21 with 5:48 left before the half. But BC scored seven of the next nine points — two baskets and a 3-pointer from Hawkins — to make it a one-point game.
The Eagles scored the first four points of the second half to take the lead for good and outscored the Pioneers 43-22 in the second.
The game was part of the campus stage of the Hall of Fame tipoff tournament. BC had already beaten South Carolina State by 39 points in its opener. Both teams now move to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut for two more games.
Boston College’s Jerome Robinson was 1 for 14 from the field and 1 for 3 from the line, finishing with four points. The Eagles’ leading scorer last season, he had not scored fewer than nine in a game in 11 months.
Hawkins said he told him to “just keep his head up.”
“We got the win. That’s what’s most important,” he said. “Just keep shooting that ball. Everything is going to play out the way it’s supposed to play out.”
Sacred Heart: Two games, two losses for the Pioneers. In the opener, they came back from an 11-point halftime deficit to lose to Holy Cross 69-64. This time they looked good for a half but couldn’t keep up with BC when their shooting cooled off.
Boston College: The halftime deficit would have shocked the crowd, if there had been more than 643 people in the stands. The Eagles pulled it out to remain unbeaten in nonconference play and avoid an embarrassing loss.
Sacred Heart: Plays Saint Peter’s in the Hall of Fame tournament at Mohegan Sun at 7:30 p.m.
Boston College: Plays Texas Tech at Mohegan Sun on Saturday at 3 p.m.