When Boston College head coach Erik Johnson decided to go with three freshmen in his starting lineup, growing pains were to be expected. Marti Mosetti, Ashley Kelsick, and Katie Quandt have been essential to the recent success of the Eagles, but the freshman trio hit a roadblock at the Carrier Dome. The starting trio combined for 16 turnovers and only 14 points, exposing the Eagles’ inexperience. Coach Johnson said after the game that this was an important learning experience for the team. “If you don’t play teams like this, you don’t get exposed,” Johnson said. “You don’t know what it is that you need to get better at.”
In their second meeting of the season, No. 25 Syracuse (19-8, 9-5 ACC) definitely showed BC (12-14, 4-9 ACC) what the Eagles must improve on to compete in the ACC. Thursday night, the Eagles learned what will not get it done—failing in the turnover battle. BC amassed 30 turnovers in the game due to the Orange’s hounding pressure, resulting in a 73-51 victory for Syracuse.
“Syracuse does a really good job of mixing their looks and they come at you in different ways in different situations,” Johnson said. “You sorta feel like its the NFL a little bit, trying to read different pressure packages and find where the openings are gonna be.”
With the support of its defensive pressure, the Orange came after the Eagles on offense from the outset. The Orange forced five turnovers in the first five minutes, riding that to a 10-2 lead. By the 9:52 mark, hope seemed lost for the Eagles as Brianna Butler hit her fifth 3-pointer and Syracuse held a 33-13 lead. Butler lead the offensive charge for the Orange with 22 points and 6-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Outside of Butler, Syracuse’s scoring was balanced with only one other player, Diamond Henderson, accounting for double digits.
For the Eagles, the scoring mostly came from one unsurprising source. Kelly Hughes led the team with 19 points, hitting on five of her nine 3-pointers to continue her recent streak of hot shooting. Hughes did her best to carry her team as they struggled to get any consistent offensive flow going. Outside of Hughes, these young Eagles had few brights spots as they showed obvious growing pains. The most evident manifestation of these growing pains came in the Eagles’ turnovers. Even one of the Eagles’ most experienced players, Nicole Boudreau, gave the ball away to the Orange six times.
The story of the second half was no different. Immediately after the break, Syracuse came out with a 10-2 run, exactly like the first half, and any doubt in the game’s result was erased at this point. The Eagles were down 55-31 and they needed offense but their scoring was nowhere to be found. Outside of Hughes, the starting lineup of Emilee Daley, Kelsick, Mosetti, and Quandt combined for only 18 points, not even equalling the 19 for Hughes.
Turnovers were obviously the story of the game and the factor that separated the Orange and the Eagles. In separating itself from BC, Syracuse proved why it was worthy of it ranking as the 25th best team in the country. Once again, Johnson was effusive in his praise of Syracuse’s play. “Syracuse deserves the credit,” Johnson said. “They’re able to push tempo, they’re able to take you out of your comfort zone and force you to play a tempo that is uncomfortable.”
As the Eagles have gained some confidence and had more success down the stretch of this season, a road game at the Carrier Dome offered them a chance to really see where they are. Unfortunately for BC, that place is nowhere near of Syracuse. The young Eagles definitely have some more growing to do before they will be anywhere near ready to compete at the top level of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Photos Courtesy of Margaret Lin / The Daily Orange