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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Shields Pushes BC Past Rutgers

Heights Editor

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

Looking to bounce back from its loss to Northwestern last week, the Boston College women’s basketball team tipped off against Rutgers University yesterday afternoon at Conte Forum.

Thanks to a game-winning layup from senior Kerri Shields in the final seconds of play, the Eagles won a closely contested matchup by a final score of 58-56. The thrilling victory was BC’s fifth of the season, and a momentous step forward for head coach Erik Johnson’s squad.

“This was a key, key game for our confidence to show we can compete with anybody,” Johnson said.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle, as BC and Rutgers had fought nearly to a statistical draw. Both squads notched 11 field goals, 10 points off of turnovers, and 14 points in the paint. Though the Eagles built a 27-16 lead after a Boudreau 3-pointer opened up the scoring floodgates, poor ball control enabled the Scarlet Knights to fight their way back into the game. A key 3-pointer from Rutgers’ Erica Wheeler and a subsequent jumper from her teammate Monique Oliver cut the Eagles’ lead to 31-27 heading into the second half.

Despite its lapse in execution just prior to halftime, BC immediately responded using its arsenal from behind the arc. Shields, freshman Nicole Boudreau, and junior Shayra Brown worked together to knock down five straight 3-pointers and stretched the Eagles’ lead to 10 points midway through the second frame. After a 6-0 scoring run and a couple more costly BC turnovers, however, the Scarlet Knights tied the score at 52.

Offensive rebounding proved to be pivotal in the game’s closing minutes. With the score tied at 54, BC’s Katie Zenevitch snatched a rebound off an unsuccessful 3-point attempt and gave her team the advantage with a clutch put-back. Moments later, Rutgers responded with a key offensive board of its own when Chelsey Lee snatched a rebound and sent it through the net with a half-hook, fighting to a 56-56 tie with under a minute to play.

After calling a timeout, BC took the game’s final possession. Although Johnson planned for junior Kristen Doherty to take the game’s final shot, Shields used her court vision skills to take matters into her own hands. Finding an open lane, the senior drove to the net and knocked down a pivotal lay-up to give the Eagles a two-point advantage with under five seconds to play. Solid defense from Zenevitch stifled a last-second attempt from RU’s Wheeler to force overtime. To Johnson, BC’s complete team performance on Sunday was indicative of the team’s recent play on the court.

“For us, ball movement, sharing the ball, creating shots for others—what we showed in these last few games is a toughness and an ability to play against bigger, more athletic teams,” Johnson said.

In the short-term, yesterday’s dramatic victory against a storied Rutgers program put BC back into the win column amidst a challenging stretch of games. Yet Johnson realizes that his team’s performance and determination to improve will be vital going forward.

“Even in a win, there’s a lot of things that we need to be able to tighten up,” Johnson said, “but I thought it was a huge statement that we do belong, that this group can compete, and now we just want to keep playing better and better teams.”

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