Don’t turn the ball over.
Basketball coaches around the country repeat this every day. On Wednesday night, Boston College women’s basketball proved exactly why coaches continually instruct their teams to do this. The Eagles (13-7, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) turned the ball over 25 times on their way to a 62-61 defeat by the Syracuse Orange (14-7, 4-4) at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.
BC came out with a hot start in the first quarter, taking an early 13-2 lead buoyed by three 3-pointers from junior Kelly Hughes. This mini-run to begin the game set the tone for a solid first quarter effort from the Eagles, who continued their scoring to take a 20-15 lead heading into the second quarter, leading by as much as 13 at one point.
In the second quarter, adversity started to hit the Eagles as the Orange began to play much better. The turnaround for Syracuse started late in the first quarter, and its defense was the main catalyst. The group forced 12 turnovers starting at the two-minute mark of the first, and continued that momentum into the second quarter. Briana Butler dominated the first half for the Orange, totaling 22 points, with 12 of them coming from beyond the arc.
Syracuse seized control of the game in the second quarter. The Orange led by as much as nine and took a 40-31 lead at the break. The team’s ability to take over the game and reverse the script was due to its trademark defensive hustle, which forced a total of 18 turnovers in the half.
The Eagles reasserted themselves in the third and much of that was due to Hughes, who rained down three 3-pointers to start the second half, just as she did in the first, and brought the Eagles back within four points. While the Eagles still turned the ball over too much in the third, they held Butler to only two points and got buckets from four different players, in addition to Hughes. This team effort and renewed commitment to slowing down Butler reduced the lead to as little as one point, and the Eagles eventually trailed by only three at the end of the quarter.
BC’s momentum from the third carried into the fourth, and the comeback rolled on. Two things keyed a strong fourth quarter for the Eagles: freshman Mariella Fasoula and a commitment to ball security. Fasoula scored six points, and BC did not turn it over once in the entire quarter. By the 1:49 mark of the fourth quarter, the Eagles tied it up at 61 apiece. BC had a chance to pull ahead on its final possession when it got the ball into Fasoula in the post with nine seconds left, but Briana Day blocked her shot.
After the missed opportunity, each team called a timeout as they postured for late-game position. Out of the break, Brittney Sykes drove the lane for the Orange, and was fouled on the floor by Hughes. After the foul, Sykes drove the lane once again and missed the shot, but Cornelia Fondren rebounded the miss and Kailey Edwards fouled her on the put back attempt. Fondren drilled the first free throw, then missed the second and, just like that, the game was over. Syracuse prevailed 62-61.
BC’s resilience was one positive takeaway from the game. Despite being down big at half and turning the ball over too many times, the Eagles fought back by playing better defense. BC beat Syracuse 31-21 in the second half and almost stole the game, despite an alarming 25 turnovers. Much of that can be credited to Hughes, who scored 21, grabbed 13 rebounds, and recorded four steals. Fasoula was the second player whose effort kept the Eagles in it, as she scored 18 with several big buckets down the stretch. A road win against a solid conference foe would have been impressive for the Eagles, but their desire to fight was nonetheless impressive.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor