Bowman, Popovic carry Boston College past Columbia 82-73

BOSTON (AP) — Boston College Jim Christian doesn’t believe there’s a big gap between teams in college basketball like there was when he played.

He certainly wasn’t going to let his team overlook an Ivy League team, especially after what happened around the country a night earlier.

Ky Bowman scored 24 points, Nik Popovic had 22 with a season-high 14 rebounds and Boston College beat Columbia 82-73 on Wednesday night.

When asked about Penn, also from the Ivy League, knocking off 17th ranked Villanova on Tuesday night, Christian talked about how the game has changed.

“When I played 100 years ago, there was a huge difference between the Big East teams and the other teams,” said Christian, who was on Rhode Island’s 1988 squad that made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

“That margin is not as big as it was. Just look across the country,” he said. “The parity of college basketball, to me, is at an all-time high. There’s none of that ‘intimidation level’ that there used to be.”

Wynston Tabbs added 19 points for the Eagles (7-2). BC, from the Atlantic Coast Conference, has won five of six games. Bowman added 10 rebounds.

Patrick Tape led the Lions (3-7) with 17 points. Randy Brumant and Quinton Adlesh each scored 16.

Bowman nailed a 3-pointer, hit two free throws and had a breakaway layup in the closing 2 ½ minutes to help BC avoid an upset.

“He’s an ACC-level guard,” Columbia coach Jim Engles said. “We’ve got to do a better job. There’s guys like him running around. We have to do a better job of not letting him take over, especially in ‘winning time.'”

Columbia was hanging close into the final minutes until BC used a quick spurt to go up 67-58 on Bowman’s jumper with 6 ½ minutes left.

Trailing 38-32 at intermission, the Lions opened the second half by scoring the initial eight points to take their first lead since the game’s opening minutes.

“We didn’t come out with much energy,” Tabbs said. “Coach just told us to pick it up.”

BC had opened a 37-25 lead on Bowman’s second of consecutive 3s just 31-seconds apart, but the Lions scored seven of the last eight points, closing the gap to six at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Columbia: Engles said guard Mike Smith, the team’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, was lost for the season with a torn meniscus he suffered in the previous game. Despite the loss, they should be satisfied that they played decently without a big part of their offense.

“I thought we played good basketball,” Engles said. “We’re still trying figure out a little of the rotation because Mike’s not playing.”

Boston College: The Eagles seemed like they were in control early, but some lackluster and sloppy play allowed Columbia to climb back into it. Stretches likely were because two reserve players had big minutes, but it’s something BC can’t afford against tougher opponents.

FOR STARTERS

Freshmen Chris Herren Jr. and Jairus Hamilton made their first collegiate starts.

Herren started in place of Jordan Chatman, who was sidelined with an injured right ankle that he rolled in practice. Hamilton started because Popovic was just cleared from concussion protocol Tuesday and Christian ended up going with a smaller starting lineup.

EXAMINING THINGS

Combining a non-marquee opponent and approaching finals led to a very small crowd.

LONG-RANGE SHUTDOWN

Columbia’s guard Gabe Stefanini entered the night leading the nation in 3-point percentage at 57.5 per game. He went just 2 for 6.

UP NEXT

Columbia: At Rutgers on Dec. 22.

Boston College: Hosts Fairfield on Sunday.

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