With 3.9 ticks left on the clock before halftime, Nicole Boudreau gathered the inbounds pass in front of her own team’s bench and zoomed into the frontcourt. At the edge of the midcourt logo, 35 feet from the hoop, she hoisted a runner. Time stood still. Fans in Conte Forum held their collective breath. The ball caromed off the backboard and descended halfway through the metal ring. Then, inexplicably, in a distortion of physics that would make Isaac Newton scratch his head, it plopped out. Boudreau was on fire, and no one could believe she’d missed.
A 26-point effort from the senior wasn’t enough, though. Boston College women’s basketball (13-10, 1-9) entered the locker room on Sunday afternoon with a six-point advantage and began the final period up four, but the University of North Carolina (13-12, 3-7) exploded for 28 fourth-quarter points to climb back into the lead and seize the victory, 86-78.
The Tar Heels, who only played six women the entire game, made two-thirds of their attempts from the field in the second half despite consistent effort on the defensive end from the Eagles.
“When a team shoots 67 percent in a half, as a coach, you have to certainly take some responsibility for that,” BC head coach Erik Johnson said after the game. “If they’re making shots, then it’s my job to be able to put our players in position to try to mitigate that.”
There isn’t much an opposing coach can do when players like Carolina’s Hillary Summers––a 46.7 percent shooter this season––hits 11 of 12 shots from the field.
Johnson had his team mix up coverages, switch assignments, and fine-tune other aspects of its defense. The Eagles even ditched their man-to-man scheme to try out a 2-3 zone. But it was to no avail.
“Pretty much every time we made an adjustment, they were able to make us pay,” he said.
The BC coaching staff had its post players step out farther on UNC’s bigs, who were nailing jumper after jumper in the second half.
But as the Eagles zigged, the Tar Heels zagged.
The stretchier floor opened up creases for Tar Heels’ guard Jamie Cherry, who got to the free throw line 16 times. When BC’s forwards tried to corral Cherry on side pick and rolls, UNC’s N’Dea Bryant simply popped to the open space and drilled from midrange.
BC committed only a dozen turnovers, but those 12 hiccups proved deadly.
“If you average 12 turnovers for the season, you’re one of the national leaders,” Johnson said. “But the turnovers that we made were bad––they were in bad positions.”
As Carolina crept back into the game, BC pressed on offense, and the Tar Heel perimeter swiped the ball away for repeated runouts toward the other end.
It created a feedback loop: Tar Heels score; Eagles press on offense, leading to turnover; Tar Heels score.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Carolina finished with 20 points on possessions following turnovers, racking up 13 in the second half.
After sinking eight of her first 11 attempts from 3-point territory and notching 26 points through three quarters, Boudreau couldn’t break from her defender for a single point in the final 10 minutes.
Still, her barrage of triples opened up opportunities all over the floor for teammates––an invisible hand effect.
On the first play of the second half, BC ran a pick and roll for freshman center Mariella Fasoula. She rumbled to the rim unchecked because Boudreau was stationed on the weak side, sucking away the help defender who would normally be tasked with sinking into the paint to bump Fasoula off her line. Instead, the freshman met no resistance at the rim and dropped in the easiest layup of her young BC career.
A few possessions later, a simple pump fake sent the UNC defender soaring, and Boudreau sliced into the paint, setting up an easy drop-off pass to Fasoula.
She ended the game with eight assists and eight 3-pointers––which ties the BC record for threes in a game––yet it wasn’t enough.
The Eagles offense sputtered in the final quarter. The Tar Heels’ smoldered.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor