With 3:41 to go in the fourth quarter of a tight game, sophomore point guard Martina Mosetti got caught underneath a ball screen, and Maine’s Sigi Koizar buried a three. Finally, for the first time all day, she had broken free from Mosetti’s shackles. The play offered a glimpse of what the storyline might’ve been for Boston College women’s basketball had Mosetti not stuck to Koizar like a tongue on a frozen light pole.
Team Defense: “How nice is it to be able to count on your defense when you’re not having a great offensive night?” head coach Erik Johnson said to his team in the locker room.
The Eagles held Maine to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor, and the Black Bears only connected on five of their 26 shots from beyond the arc. Koizar, an America East First Team selection in 2014-15, couldn’t get into any sort of offensive rhythm, as Mosetti chased her around an endless maze of ball screens and held the guard to a 5-for-16 night from the field.
This offseason, Johnson scrapped the old zones BC used in years past and implemented the pack-line defense, a conservative man-to-man scheme popularized by longtime men’s college basketball coach Dick Bennett. Employed by such defensive savants as University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and University of Virginia skipper Tony Bennett, the pack-line defense aims to choke off dribble penetration at the 3-point line and funnel would-be attackers toward help defenders.
“It’s the kind of defense where you have to be there for your teammates,” senior guard Nicole Boudreau said.
Other than a few communication hiccups that led to easy layups for the Black Bears, the Eagles executed their new system to near perfection. “Everyone’s chasing up and over screens the whole entire game because they know they’ve got someone behind them,” Boudreau said. “That’s something we’re gonna start making a staple of our team.”
Ball Security Among the Guards: After made baskets, Maine employed a three-quarters court 2-2-1 zone press and fell back into an amorphous 2-3 once the Eagles moved the ball past halfcourt.
Mosetti, only a sophomore, handled the pressure with poise, making smart passes and remaining under control. She and fellow backcourt starters Boudreau and Kelly Hughes together tallied seven assists and had only one turnover.
Offensive Rebounding: Down 38-31 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter, BC went on a 15-0 run to break the game open and flip the script. But the Eagles snagged six of their 12 total offensive rebounds during that stretch to pour in second-chance buckets. It was fitting, then, that an offensive board from senior forward Alexa Coulombe off a missed Mosetti free throw sealed the victory, as the ball then made its way to Hughes, who knocked down a pair of shots from the charity stripe.
Defensive Rebounding: On the other end, though, BC struggled to keep Maine off the glass. The Eagles conceded 15 offensive rebounds, including six in the final quarter. Starting center Katie Quandt didn’t manage to snag a defensive rebound, and backup Mariella Fasoula gathered only two. Both players are strong and can hold firm position under the rim, but quality rebounding also requires mobility, something on which the tandem needs improvement.
Johnson’s squad rebounded only 62 percent of Maine’s misses, a number that will have to tick upward if BC hopes to win at a high level in the ACC.
Kelly Hughes’ Disappearing Act: Early in the first quarter, Hughes hit her first three shots from behind the arc and didn’t score again until sinking a free throw with 32 seconds remaining in the contest. Even in its 2-3 zone, Maine directed extra attention to the 3-point marksman and practically ignored freshman forward Ella Awobajo when she was farther than 10 feet from the basket. Even when Maine doubled in the post, Hughes couldn’t shake free to find open gaps on the perimeter.
“I’m gonna take responsibility for that,” Johnson said afterward. “I’ve gotta do a better job of making sure that we can dictate what we want.”
For BC’s offensive engine to run smoothly, Hughes will have to find ways to create open space and separation from defenders.
Ball Security Among the Bigs: Overall, it was a tough day for centers Quandt and Fasoula. The latter, a freshman playing in her first home game, coughed up five turnovers, including two consecutive slip-ups in the middle of the second quarter. Regardless, Johnson and Boudreau remained unfazed, pointing to the duo’s lack of experience.
“Our point guards are freshmen and sophomores, our centers are freshmen and sophomores,” Johnson said. “They had to learn that, hey, when there’s congestion, we can’t be dribbling the ball and trying to pass out of double teams without pivoting.”
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor