NEWTON, Mass. -- The Eagles gave Peter Rehnquist a gift on Wednesday night.
It was senior night at Conte Forum, Boston College’s final home game of 2011-12. That meant it was the last chance for players like Rehnquist, a little-used walk-on from Sharon, Mass., to set foot on the court in Chestnut Hill.
Steve Donahue wanted to recognize all the work Rehnquist (averages coming into the game: 0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assists in 1 minute per game) had put in during the two years Donahue had been head coach.
So he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the starting lineup.
Rehnquist played the first 1:28, recording a single shot attempt and no other stats during his stint. The senior was subbed out for Ryan Anderson after his driving, reverse layup attempt was blocked by Georgia Tech’s Kammeon Holsey, and spent the rest of the game on the bench.
“That’s great,” junior Matt Humphrey said of Rehnquist getting the start. “Pete’s probably the hardest working dude on our team. Pete comes to practice every day.
“Walking into practice, you wouldn’t think he’s a walk-on or anything like that because he brings it every single day. It was a happy moment. He did what he was supposed to do, and I’m proud of him.”
Donahue clearly was, too.
“He’s probably a real, official walk-on because he was here before I got here,” the coach said. “He’s got so many other things obviously that you don’t realize beyond the basketball aspect of it. He’s been incredible in the community service piece. Just representing our program in every way. He’s teaching in practice, he plays hard.
“I’m hoping that he remembers starting this game at Boston College and being a big highlight of his career because he’s meant so much to us. He’s the type of kid we want to continue to get as we go forward.”
But back to the gift he was given. Because the Eagles held off the Yellow Jackets’ late charge and won 56-52, Rehnquist can say he finishes his BC career undefeated as a starter.
After the game, Donahue was full of praise for his favorite part-time player, John Cahill.
“He’s the left-handed pitcher that needs to get the left-handed batter out in the middle innings or late in the game,” the coach joked, before turning serious. “I’m gonna miss him. Obviously it’s his last home game, as well.”
Cahill joined the Eagles in 2010-11 as a walk-on, after serving as a practice player for the women’s team. The 6-1, 170-pound son of a longtime NCAA referee, Cahill became a situational defensive player, a reliable 3-point shooter and a sometimes starter in his two years on Donahue’s team.
On Wednesday, he finished the game with four points, all coming on one four-point play on which he buried a 3 and got fouled, a foul and a blocked shot in 10 minutes off the bench.
“He just has a great IQ, a great feel,” Donahue said. “The four-point play was huge. He’s our best defensive player, as crazy as it sounds. He gets in front of people, he draws charges, he gets loose balls. The guys are probably tired of me referencing him on film. Like, ‘See where John’s at? That’s where you should be.’ I’m sure he gets busted in the locker room, but he just knows it.
“He’s an additional coach out there. He communicates, he teaches those guys so much over these six months. We’re gonna miss that aspect of it. But in the same sense we’ve gotta move forward, and he knows it. We’re gonna bring in better players than John Cahill, and they’re gonna be taught. But for the two years that he was here he’s been such a great help.”
One for the road?
The success stories for BC have been found in the details in 2011-12. With nine freshmen on the roster entering the season, the Eagles were never going to be able to use wins and losses as a gauge of their progress.
But with a 9-20 overall record and a 4-11 mark in the ACC, there is one last thing the Eagles would like to accomplish before the regular season ends on Saturday at Miami: win a true road game.
The only time this season the Eagles have come out on top in another team’s gym was in the second game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, when they beat UC Riverside in overtime. Other than that, they’ve gone oh-for-the-road with losses at Providence, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest.
The closest they came was against the Hokies, a game in which the Eagles held a one-point lead into the final seconds only to lose on a tip-in off an initial Va. Tech miss.
That’s why, Donahue said, this weekend’s game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3) is still so important. To show that hard work and the will to compete can pay off.
“Absolutely,” he said. “These are huge games for these guys. We’re teaching ,we’re working hard. We want to get a road win so bad.
“We’re gonna do everything we can to win at Miami. That’s obviously a talented basketball team. It’s critical that we continue to try to get better here.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.