BOSTON (AP) — Boston College’s Ryan Anderson started off his second year proving he deserved last season’s praise.
Anderson, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman team last year, scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Eagles to an 84-70 win over Florida International in the schools’ season opener on Sunday.
‘‘Ryan obviously does so much on the court,’’ BC coach Steve Donahue said. ‘‘Him taking a leadership role has made him a better player. He does so many things, which we need him to. We need him to every game.’’
Anderson, one of just two unanimous selections to the 2011-12 ACC all-freshman team — along with Austin Rivers, who left Duke for the NBA — scored seven of his points during a game-breaking run.
Anderson abused the Panthers mostly from in the lane, and made the key play when the Eagles needed him.
‘‘I just took it upon myself, as a guy that likes to play around the basket, to just kind of try to make my living in there for the game — for me and for others,’’ he said. ‘‘I just looked for the ball. There’s a lot of room off the wing, just outside the paint. I was just trying to find (it) all game. If they were going to leave me open, I was going to shoot the ball.’’
It was his short jumper that pushed BC ahead for good with just over eight minutes left.
Dennis Clifford, Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann each scored 12 points for Boston College, which spoiled FIU’s Richard Pitino Jr.’s debut as head coach.
Pitino, son of the longtime Louisville coach, was the youngest coach ever hired in FIU’s basketball program when he got the job at 29 years old in April.
Jerome Frink paced FIU with 22 points with 10 rebounds, and Malik Smith had 16 points.
BC owned a 46-28 rebounding advantage and hit 15 more free throws, despite 17 turnovers.
‘‘I thought we had a chance to win the game,’’ Pitino said. ‘‘If we rebounded the ball I thought we'd have a chance. You put a team on the line 39 times and get outrebounded 46-28, you don’t have a chance to win.’’
The Panthers wiped out a 16-point halftime deficit, tying it on Smith’s 3-pointer with 8:45 to play.
But BC responded with its game-breaking run.
Anderson started it with his short jumper from the left of the key and followed with two free throws. After a pair of free throws by Joe Rahon, Heckmann was credited with a basket on a goaltending call and followed with a pair of free throws. Anderson then hit 1 of 2 from the line, making it 76-65 with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
The Panthers never closed it below double digits the rest of the way.
‘‘There were times it looked like we going to blow them out and times we couldn’t stop them,’’ Donahue said. ‘‘What I did notice was there was a different attitude from last year’s team. They really pulled themselves up.’’
The Eagles started four freshmen and a transfer player last season, finishing 9-22 overall and 4-12 in the ACC. They opened Saturday with three sophomores and two freshmen.
The Panthers, who lost nearly all of their scoring from last year’s squad, tightened up their interior defense in the second half and used full-court pressure to force BC into some turnovers right from the beginning, closing the score to 51-43 on Frink’s 3 just three minutes after the break.
BC, which dominated the glass in the opening half, led 49-33 at intermission. The Eagles had a number of high-percentage shots in the lane.
Midway through the opening half, Heckmann’s consecutive 3-pointers 22 seconds apart triggered a 21-8 run for BC that helped the Eagles to their big halftime lead.
The Eagles nearly grabbed as many offensive boards (10) as the Panthers had overall rebounds (13) in the first half, leading to easy second-chance baskets.