Huskies Take Tough Contest at Conte
Published: Monday, February 12, 2001
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
As the men’s basketball team has ascended the ranks of the Big East and jumped into the country’s top 15, the women’s squad has surprised fans and critics as well. Ranked in the preseason top 20, the team is continuing its trudge through a seemingly endless season filled with disappointment and frustration.
This season, Boston College has amounted an overall record of 8-15 (including a 2-5 mark in the Big East), as it sports the fifth-hardest schedule in the country according to the February 5th RPI release. Having lost four consecutive games and eight of its last nine contests, the Eagles welcomed the third-ranked University of Connecticut to Conte Forum last Sunday in an effort to bring about some cheer in an otherwise disappointing season. The Eagles showed some promise in the first 30 minutes but ultimately fell, 78-53.
Becky Gottstein and Janelle McManus were the bright spots for the Eagles. Gottstein had a double-double, scoring 16 points and bringing in 12 rebounds. McManus, a freshman, poured in 20 points to lead the BC offensive charge.
Accompanying the Huskies’ team was a series of buses filled with countless UConn fans who had made the trip from Storrs, Connecticut in order to support their title contenders. Having sold out every home game of the season, Husky fans filled Conte Forum, outnumbering the Eagles’ supporters considerably, thus negating any possible home court advantage.
Gottstein scored the game’s first points on a feed from freshman guard Amber Jacobs. This lay-in would prove to be one of the few good looks that the Eagles would see throughout the game, as the team would struggle with UConn’s pressure defense. Trading baskets throughout the game’s opening minutes, UConn would quickly take a seven-point lead prompted by four points by junior standout Sue Bird.
Putting the cap on a seven-point run, BC took its second and final lead of the game with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half when Gottstein converted on a lay-up attempt, putting the Eagles up 14-13. UConn junior Swin Cash would go on to score nine points over the next five minutes helping her team to amount a ten-point lead with just over six minutes remaining in the half. The largest lead of the first half would come with 2:56 remaining when UConn would take an 11-point lead on Kelly Schumacher’s lay-up.
Despite Gottstein’s seven point and six rebound effort, the Eagles entered the locker room at the half trailing by a score of 35-25. Cash’s 14 points led UConn’s balanced scoring attack while the team’s pressure defense greatly limited the Eagles’ offensive success. Plagued by turnovers, BC totaled 12 throughout the first half, surrendering 16 points on account of these mishaps. Unable to establish a firm presence below the basket, the Eagles were outscored 22-10 in the paint in the first period of play.
“They were doing a good job of clogging the inside,” said Gottstein. “They were rotating different bodies in and clogging the paint. They did a good job keeping us away from the basket and keeping us from rebounding, which was one of our goals.”
These trends would not end with the first half, as turnovers and poor rebounding would continue to pester the team in the latter period. Five turnovers in the half’s first five minutes of play turned into five quick points by the Huskies, resulting in a 47-32 deficit. Missed field goal attempts by BC only helped the Huskies’ efforts as they continued to increase their lead well into the second half. McManus gave her best effort to keep her team in the game by converting on a pair of three point attempts and hitting six of seven free throw attempts. Amounting 20 points in the contest, McManus’ efforts were not enough, as UConn took a 28-point lead with just over three minutes remaining on its way to a 78-53 victory.
Four of UConn’s starting five players finished with over 10 points, led by Cash and guard Diana Taurasi who totalled 16 points apiece. They were assisted by Bird and guard Shea Ralph who each contributed 10 points.
The loss drops the Eagles’ overall record to 8-14, 2-9 in the Big East. This fifth consecutive defeat is the team’s seventh loss to a ranked opponent, including top five competitors Duke, Purdue, Tennessee, Notre Dame and UConn. Meanwhile, the second-ranked Huskies improved to 20-2 .
With the win, UConn erased all bitter memories regarding its last trip to Conte Forum on January 23, 1999. A 78-66 upset over the then-number two ranked UConn ended a 16-game losing streak to the Huskies and left the players frustrated and bewildered.
“I remember the last time we were here, what they did to us, the way that they were in the cameras. I didn’t like that,” said Ralph. “I wanted to go out and win one here.”
Ralph continues, “We felt like the last time we came down we didn’t play our game at all. They totally controlled the game. That was one of my most frustrating games, just sitting and watching that game, knowing there was nothing I could do. Now, after this win, we can finally forget that game.”
With the UConn game past, the Eagles can take solace in the fact that the top-five segment of its schedule has concluded.
With the season’s final regular season contests coming against Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the team will look to improve its record its conference record and qualify for the Big East tournament.
“We have five or six games left and we play some good teams,” Gottstein said. “That is what our season will come down to. This game was a learning experience, and these last couple of games will allow us to regroup and get ready for the last part of our season.”