WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Turnovers Stall Eagles In Loss To Wildcats
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
ACC and Big Ten basketball squads have been pitted against each other in early-season matchups since 2007 when the ACC-Big Ten Women’s Challenge began. Each team takes the opportunity to play a tone-setting game against a competitor from the other conference, and on Wednesday, Nov. 28, the Eagles faced a powerful, undefeated Northwestern team in Conte Forum.
BC posted strong individual performances and outshot the Wildcats 45.8 to 38.2 percent from the field. Despite a strong effort, the Eagles committed 22 turnovers and suffered a 67-63 loss.
This was the third loss for the Eagles that was by fewer than six points, but head coach Erik Johnson was not discouraged.
“As soon as I walked into the locker room, they had already been talking about the things that they needed to do better,” Johnson said. “This team is really starting to get it. Now the question is: can we do that consistently enough to be able to beat high level teams consistently? Down the stretch of this game, we were able to identify it afterwards, but we didn’t quite do it in time to win the game, but that’s what practice tomorrow is for.”
Northwestern, a young but athletic team, took the lead to start and, despite four free throws from junior forward Katie Zenevitch, who was 12-for-12 behind the line on Wednesday to set a new career high in free throws, held on to maintain a 9-8 lead. Then a strong push from the Eagle offense and strong defensive efforts opened up a 17-4 run over six minutes with seven separate players scoring for BC.
The Wildcats quickly responded with a run of their own during which the Eagle lead was cut to three. With less than two minutes left in the half, BC was unable to gain a more comfortable margin and, as the half wound down, a Northwestern 3-pointer put the Wildcats ahead 34-32 to end the half.
It was an up and down half for the Eagles.
“That’s that consistent attack that often stalls early,” Johnson said. “Every time we make an adjustment, we’re not getting baskets the same way we were five minutes ago. It takes us a little while right now. We call a timeout and make an adjustment, but we need to be able to make those on the fly.”
Coming out of the break, the Eagles showed renewed energy and were once again able to put together a strong scoring run. Senior Kerri Shields and freshman Nicole Boudreau, both guards, contributed to the 10-2 run with a flurry of 3-pointers. The run was consistent with both of their strong performances on the night as Shields scored 11 points and Boudreau scored 10. Two more free throws from Zenevitch gave the Eagles a 44-34 lead.
Yet consistent efforts from the Wildcat offense and a few turnovers committed by BC, however, allowed Northwestern to pull back into the game, slowly narrowing the margin over the next 11 minutes as the lead shrunk to one with just over four minutes of play remaining. Another push over the next two minutes gave Northwestern its first lead since early in the first half, taking advantage of the Eagle defense to slip ahead 60-58 with a strong three-point play.
From then on out, it was nearly all Wildcats, as they took a 66-60 lead. A moment of hope for BC came when Kirsten Doherty hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining, but a Northwestern free throw sealed the game as a 67-63 Wildcat win, bringing the Eagles to a 4-3 record and an all time 2-3 record in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The Eagles face a tough season of ACC play ahead of them, and Johnson has his sights set forward.
“All we’re looking at is our next game —how we’re going to beat Rutgers, how we’re going to beat Arizona State,” he said.