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Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

womens bball

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

For any new head coach in his or her first season in a new environment, the first win can seem like the hardest. The Boston College women’s basketball team’s Erik Johnson found this out firsthand when his team dropped its opening contest to Boston University last weekend. The Eagles bounced back in their second effort of the season on Tuesday evening, however, defeating Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. by a score of 71-52, giving Johnson his first win as a head coach on the heights.

“Of course it’s nice to get that first win, but we really try to focus on the process,” Johnson said. “I have to give the players a ton of credit, because we stalled offensively in the first game against BU. I was so impressed with the team and how well they were able to assimilate a lot of changes and put them into effect in a high-level Division I basketball game that quickly. It was a really good maturation from game one to game two.”

The workmanlike attitude of Johnson was clearly reflected in his team, as it was able to score 25 more points against the Crusaders. Johnson’s emphasis on ball movement and shot creation paid off, as BC notched an impressive 20 assists on 30 overall baskets.

The first half appeared to be more of the same from the BU game, as the Eagles shot merely 29.4 percent from the field and a poor 2-for-18 from the three-point line. Johnson’s team went into halftime with a 24-22 lead as the offense stuttered.

“The thing that most impressed me about our offense was that we shot poorly in the first half, but for the most part, believe it or not, our shot selection was pretty good,” Johnson said of his team’s struggles. “This team had to believe that they could keep shooting the same shots and keep working at the same things [in the second half] and they did it. That shows a belief from our kids.”

The second half saw the Eagles come alive, as they shot an impressive 71.4 percent from the field and outscored the Crusaders by 17 points.

That margin was augmented by a crucial string of 12 consecutive points that BC put up against its opponent. Junior Kristen Doherty started the run with a 3-pointer at 12:24 remaining in the game, and BC’s onslaught would not end until fellow junior Katie Zenevitch’s hook shot with 8:46 left on the game clock.

Zenevitch posted 21 points on the night to go along with eight rebounds. Her play was crucial in establishing the Eagles’ presence in the paint, which created a lot of wide-open looks on the perimeter.

Sharpshooting freshman Nicole Boudreau and senior Kerri Shields were there to drain a lot of those outside shots. Boudreau shot 9-of-16 for the evening and poured in a game-high 22 points and six assists. Shields added 14 points of her own on 6-of-11 shooting.

“[Boudreau and Zenevitch] were the beneficiaries of a lot of ball movement,” Johnson said of his leading scorers. “Kristen Doherty, Tessah Holt, and Kerri Shields all did a phenomenal job of breaking down the defense. What you saw was a team out there, everyone working together, attacking, moving together. On any given night, we’ve got a lot of people who can put the ball in the basket, and they don’t care who it is. I hope what we saw against Holy Cross was the beginning of that culture.”

Although it is early in the season and Johnson is still tweaking his rotation, the five starters—Zenevitch, Doherty, Shields, Boudreau, and Holt—each logged over 30 minutes of game time.

The stifling Eagles defense only allowed one Crusader into double digits in scoring, as junior Alex Smith notched 15 points, making only six of her 15 shots.

Johnson’s first win as head coach will be a solid building block that  his young team can use to give it some confidence moving forward. The energetic coach is not one to bask in the glow of a victory, though, and displayed a typical “on to the next one” attitude toward this victory that should rid any thought of complacency that his team may have.

“We need to be proud of picking up the win and realize why we were successful,” Johnson said. “But we also need to realize that our next opponent [BYU] will be even better.”

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