At a women’s basketball home game for Boston College, each of the team’s 3-pointers is celebrated by cheerleaders throwing a t-shirt into the stands to screaming young fans. It’s a shame no BC cheerleaders were in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Thursday night, because they would’ve given away a lot of them, thanks to Kelly Hughes. The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard from Point Pleasant, N.J. connected on 7-of-16 from beyond the arc, helping to right the ship of a BC team that has been dealing with many off-court issues as of late.
The Eagles (11-13, 3-8 ACC) defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-16, 1-11 ACC) by a score of 75-74, their first in-conference road win behind Hughes’ shooting. Head coach Erik Johnson went with three freshmen in his starting lineup once again on Thursday as has been a trend for him lately, using the dynamic trio of Ashley Kelsick, Martina Mosetti, and Katie Quandt.
Early in the first half, the Eagles seized control of the game thanks to a strong performance by Hughes. She quickly hit two threes and a layup to flip a 6-4 Eagles deficit into a 12-6 Eagles lead. The Eagles got to their largest point margin of the half at the 10:08 mark when they led 23-10. From there, the Demon Deacons made the game close by the half and trailed by only four when the two teams came back from the break.
Wake came out in the second half and took it to the Eagles largely behind the efforts of senior forward Dearica Hamby, who scored 36 points and tallied a career high 20 rebounds. A key for Wake’s attack was combatting the 2-3 zone the Eagles deployed for much of the game. The best strategy to combat a 2-3 zone is shooting over the top of it or using quick passing to find space in the middle of it. Wake only hit four threes, but the team scored 44 points in the paint, clearly its way of attacking the zone. This second half surge culminated in a seven point lead with only 3:57 remaining in the first half.
In a game of two bottom feeders in the ACC, each team had one key performer who led the team—Hughes for BC and Hamby for Wake. Hughes was key in the first half and she was the star for the Eagles in the second half as well. In the first half, she scored 18 and in the second she had 14, a very consistent performance for the sophomore bolstered by her stellar 3-point shooting. For Wake, Hamby did most of her damage in the middle as a 6-3 forward who was used her experience against the freshman Quandt. Although each team had one dominant performer, the result of the game hung on the shoulders of the teams’ role players.
BC scored ten points in the final 3:57 to come back from the deficit posed by Wake Forest. Seven of those 10 points came from Emilee Daley and Boudreau. Daley hit an important 3-pointer to kick off the run and Boudreau hit a layup off an assist from Gabriel to reduce the deficit to only two. With 1:36 left on the clock, Boudreau walked to the foul line with the game in her hands. Wake Forest held a one-point lead and the Eagles desperately needing her to hit both shots.
Fresh off of a one-game suspension for undisclosed reasons, Boudreau did just that, giving the Eagles a one-point lead at 75-74 that they would not relinquish over the final 1:36. Their gritty defense held off Wake to lock up BC’s third conference victory on the season.
Tumult and discord can derail any team’s season. Three seasons into his time on the Heights, coach Johnson’s young team is confronting those struggles in full. It was clear on Thursday night that Johnson does not allow his team to back down and it was just as clear that they will not allow distractions to unhinge the late-season success that they have started to see.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor