WORCESTER, Mass.—The Holy Cross Crusaders knew this was their best chance to finally beat intrastate rival Boston College -- and they didn't waste the chance.
Led by senior Devin Brown's 32 points and facing a very young Eagles team, the Crusaders pulled away for an 86-64 win on Friday night.
Holy Cross posted its first win of the season and just its second in its last 18 meetings with BC.
"My last 15 minutes of class were spent trying to get kids fired up for the game," said Brown, raising his eyebrows and smiling when asked if there was a "buzz" around campus for the matchup.
Holy Cross' players know the feeling: Losing big, looking outmatched and falling apart during key stretches. They felt BC doing it in the second half and finished off the Eagles.
Last season, Holy Cross opened 0-8 and lost 13 of its initial 14 games.
"Teams go on a run and teams start to crumble," said Brown, who had 21 points in the second half.
R.J. Evans scored 14 points and Dave Dudzinski added 10 points for the Crusaders (1-2).
BC swapped players and switched defenses often, but nothing could stop the Crusaders.
"With experienced guys like Devin and R.J., we were able to get into the offense we wanted to," Holy Cross coach Milan Brown said. "We had some stretches where we came out of our character, but not enough to let them back in the game."
Jordan Daniels had 15 points and John Cahill had 13 to lead Boston College (1-1). The Eagles played without their leading scorer in the season-opening win over New Hampshire -- forward Patrick Heckmann, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately, I've been through what we're doing. I've got my butt kicked a couple of times," BC coach Steve Donahue said of his squad that includes nine freshman and lost 10 lettermen from last season. "With that, we've got to be 100 percent in. They're hanging their heads that we got crushed. They can't do that."
The colleges -- located about 35 miles apart -- first played in 1906. This was the 111th meeting between the schools.
Holy Cross shot 53.4 percent from the field, connecting on 11 of 21 from behind the 3-point line. Boston College went only 8 of 27 on 3s.
The Crusaders led by eight at halftime and had their advantage sliced to 45-40 on Dennis Clifford's basket with just over 17 minutes to play. But they outscored BC 8-2 over the next 2 1/2 minutes to pull ahead 53-42 on Evans' driving basket with 14 1/2 minutes left.
"They were really ready for us," Clifford said.
The Eagles closed their deficit below double digits for the last time in the game on K.C. Caudill's two free throws, making it 53-44. The Crusaders then broke it open with a 17-7 run over the next six minutes. Evans had seven points in the run and Brown scored five, capping it with a 3-pointer from the right wing that made it 70-51 with 8:23 to play.
That was it for the Eagles.
Holy Cross opened a double-digit lead twice in the first half before taking a 38-30 edge into intermission. The Crusaders shot 57.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes, nailing 7 of 10 from beyond the 3-point line.
Leading 16-13, the Crusaders went on a 12-3 run over a 3:48 stretch. Justin Burrell started the spree with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Miller and Brown nailed 3s on consecutive possessions later in the spurt.
BC closed the gap to 30-24, but Holy Cross scored eight of the next 11 points. Once again, it was a 3-pointer that started the run -- Brown hit one from the top of the arc.
The Eagles shot just 40.7 percent from the floor in the first half, missing 11 of 16 on 3-point attempts.