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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Shields Shines As Eagles’ Offensive Attack Outduels NC State

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 22:02

When the final buzzer sounded to end Thursday night’s matchup against NC State, the Boston College women’s basketball team returned to the win column after losing four straight. Yet a back-and-forth battle created the illusion that three distinctly separate games had been played within a 40-minute span.

Thanks to timely offensive execution and veteran composure, the Eagles managed to outlast the Wolfpack by a score of 81-69 despite a turbulent second half.

“A lot of it comes down to our fundamentals, which we have been working on,” said head coach Erik Johnson of the victory. “The game of basketball does have some ebb and flow. We missed some shots that were good looks and they made some, but on the offensive end when we finally started driving hard, because they basically decided they’d stick out on the shooters.”

Effective Eagle shooting from the beginning set the tone of the first half, as BC’s offensive momentum was immediately sparked by a Kristen Doherty 3-pointer in the opening moments of play. Crisp ball movement, execution on the fast break, and a formidable presence established down low by junior Katie Zenevitch allowed BC to build an 18-7 lead while the Wolfpack offense sputtered. Though the visiting team crawled its way back into the game at 31-26, the Eagles countered with an 11-0 run of their own bolstered by a pair of 3-pointers from senior standout Kerri Shields. Taking a commanding 44-31 lead into the break, Johnson’s squad had shot 54.8 percent from the field—including 6-of-12 from behind the arc—while outscoring its opponent in the paint by a margin of 14 points despite NC State’s clear size advantage.

Yet the gains that BC had made during the first 20 minutes were quickly jeopardized by a relentless Wolfpack scoring barrage to start the second half. NC State caught fire from the field, scoring the period’s first nine points en route to a 19-5 scoring run that culminated in a go-ahead 3-pointer from guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman.

“I thought we gave them the lead back,” Johnson said in response to the temporary second-half collapse. “We stopped cutting off their right hand, they got really good drives, they were able to take it to the basket, we weren’t able to step up. We turned the ball over. When we’re turning the ball over, it’s hard to get back on defense. So they’re getting some transition, they’re feeling confident, and they hit some big shots.”

Although BC’s offense had gone cold, it immediately responded to the sudden lead change with quick layups from Shields and Doherty to stop the bleeding. NC State saw its last lead of the night disappear minutes later when BC’s Tessah Holt made a relentless drive to the rim and tied the score at 58. From there, the Eagles seized full control of the game and never looked back, taking off on a 17-0 run aided by a clutch three-ball from freshman standout Nicole Boudreau at the top of the arc. The BC attack turned a second half nail-biter into a blowout victory and a much-needed third ACC Win for Johnson’s Eagles.

“We ran in transition, we scored in transition, which is a staple of ours,” Johnson said in reaction to BC’s late-game execution. “Where we have a harder time because we are not as big is in the half court, but we set screens, we were able to get some inside baskets on some cuts and drives … I thought this was a good offensive game in that we played in both the full court and the half court.”

In spite of the Eagles’ stop-and-go second frame, their win over NC State was a complete team effort that saw all five starters finish with double-digits in scoring. Yet Shields stole the show with a game-high 20 points, including four drained 3-pointers that contributed to BC’s flurry of scoring runs.

“[Shields] is one of the best shooters in the nation, which she showed tonight,” Johnson said. “It’s one thing to be a great shooter, but it’s another thing to be able to get those shots in tough situations.”

Taking down a formidable conference rival at home and gaining ground in the ACC standings is a momentous step forward for a BC team headed into the heart of its season. Even so, Johnson realizes that the foundation for any successful program is the will to grow stronger with each and every game.

“Just the fact that we’re continuing to improve—and even if NC State made every shot and beat us tonight—I love seeing the progress and their understanding of what goes into winning basketball games and putting ourselves in a position to continue to get better.”

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