Women's Basketball

Team Effort Keeps Eagles Hot Against New Hampshire

It is hard to focus during finals. The only things on students’ minds are the holiday cheer on campus and the upcoming break from schoolwork, loud suitemates, and monotonous dining hall food. Motivation wanes as you see your friends pack up and leave for home. Not so for Boston College women’s basketball. Even with all of the distractions, the Eagles revved up for their afternoon game and remained motivated. But instead of focusing just on themselves, they put the team first.

By focusing on the team as a whole, the Eagles (8-1) flew past the University of New Hampshire (6-4), with a final score of 71-51.

During the opening quarter, BC struggled on the defensive end. UNH easily slid into open spaces and penetrated deep toward the basket. With four turnovers and five personal fouls in the opening quarter, BC was handing UNH the ball. When the Eagles had the ball on the offensive end, they struggled on the outside. BC was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and had to rely on posts Katie Quandt and Mariella Fasoula in order to keep the game close. After 10 minutes of play, the Eagles led by a small margin of 16-15.

Coming out of the short break, it was clear BC had a new game strategy, and UNH’s Nicole Belanger was the center of it. The team knew it had to shut the Wildcat’s top scorer down. BC head coach Erik Johnson kept rotating Nicole Boudreau and Kailey Edwards to guard her, but to no avail. With a new plan enacted, the Eagles were ready.

“When No. 5 [Belanger] would come up we would screen,” Quandt said. “As posts we would be up closer instead of kind of waiting for her to come to us. We made the adjustment to go to her.”

This phone booth effect, as Johnson likes to call it, forced Belanger to shoot a mere 5-of-21 from the field, largely defended by a towering Quandt. Additionally, the Eagles’ held strong in the post, holding the Wildcats’ two main post players, each of whom averages double digits, to only 4-of-20 from the field.This defensive strategy proved BC is the top defensive team in the ACC.

“When we got going defensively, then we got our transition game going and then we can now go score offensively and we opened the game up,” Johnson said.

This game plan fell into place perfectly. After shutting down Belanger, the Eagles picked up the pace. BC continually ran baseline to baseline past the Wildcats in order to drain layups. By converting on steals and turnovers, the Eagles amounted a nice cushion. With the defense locked down, the Wildcats could not score. BC went into the locker room leading 40-23.

After an electric second quarter, the Eagles slowed things down. Halfway through the quarter, both teams had only scored six points each. The Eagles shot1-of-9 in the 3-point range but used their fast inside-out play to break past the Wildcats’ defense.

The Eagles capitalized on the offensive end toward the end of the third quarter. Martina Mosetti forced a turnover and brought the ball down court, and then passed it off and dashed to the left corner. Quandt was double-teamed down low, forcing her to look to the outside. She found Mosetti in the corner, who quickly launched the ball to an open Edwards up top. Edwards set her feet and drained a three, resulting in a roar from the bench and an enthusiastic fist pump from Mosetti. The Eagles had their largest lead of the afternoon and went into the final 10 minutes with a comfortable 56-36 advantage.

BC did not let up in the fourth quarter. The Eagles continued to go baseline to baseline off of steals for layups. With 6:30 remaining, UNH’s leading scorer, Aliza Simpson, exited the game after committing her fifth foul, guaranteeing a BC victory. By shutting the Wildcats down on their offensive end, each of the 11 BC players that entered the game scored, making this 71-51 win a complete team effort.

Johnson credits this to the team culture. The Eagles are not only focused on themselves, but are there for each other. They do not blame poor play on individual players who are not doing their jobs.

“We made adjustments, we helped, and we played as a team,” Johnson said after the game. “That is something we always ask for and we preach it, but when it really starts happening, that’s when it gets fun.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

December 13, 2015

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