BOSTON (AP)—Providence coach Tim Welsh didn’t have to reach too far back in his memory to assess the play of Boston College freshman Sean Williams.
“This guy’s different. He’s kind of got an Okafor look to him,” Welsh said Saturday night after Williams had career highs with 16 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 25 Boston College extend its school-record start with a 69-60 victory over Providence.
Emeka Okafor led Connecticut to the NCAA title last year before becoming the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft. Williams may turn out to be a star, but his own coach wants to see a little more first.
“He’s going to have games like this,” BC coach Al Skinner said, “and, unfortunately, times he might not be as good.”
Craig Smith had 18 points and 13 rebounds, but Williams took over the game after Boston College fell behind 54-53, scoring six points during an 8-2 run that gave the Eagles the lead for good.
“He’s the most underrated freshman in the country,” Smith said. “The sky’s the limit.”
BC (13-0, 2-0 Big East), one of four remaining unbeaten teams in Division I, had never opened the season with 13 wins and have not won 13 straight since a record 19-game winning streak in 1968-69.
“They’re a good team. They’re not better than I expected at all,” Welsh said. “They won 24 games last year and they took the national finalist (Georgia Tech) to the final second. They’ve got almost everybody back, and now they’ve got Williams.”
Ryan Gomes, the preseason Big East player of the year, had a season-high 26 points for Providence (9-5, 0-1), but he was the only Friar in double digits. Three of Providence’s losses were to ranked teams.
Williams’ previous career highs were eight points and seven rebounds. He also had three blocked shots while playing just 24 minutes.
“I’m going to try and at least alter every shot,” he said. “I feel very comfortable out there.”
Gomes scored nine of Providence’s first 11 points in the second half during an 11-3 run that gave the Friars a 50-38 lead with 16:07 to play. But the Eagles switched to a zone defense and scored 15 of the next 17 points to take a 53-52 lead with just over 9:11 left.
“They did a good job of taking Ryan out of the game,” Welsh said. “And we’ve got to do a better job of playing against their defense.”
Herbert Hill’s putback gave Providence the lead with 8:29 left before Williams scored on a follow-up slam to put Boston College ahead. Smith scored on a drive to make it 57-54 before Randall Hanke made a layup with 4:14 left— Providence’s final basket of the game.
The Eagles closed the game with a 12-4 run as Providence made just two field goals over the last 13:10. The Friars shot 56 percent from the floor in the first half but just 29 percent in the second.
BC’s victory ended an odd streak in the series: Neither team had won at home in the previous four games over two seasons.