As the final seconds of the first half ticked off the clock, Kelly Hughes, stationed on the left wing, shook loose from her defender with a pump fake and dropped in a one-handed floater from 12 feet out. Nineteen minutes and 54 seconds after the opening tip, she’d finally made her first field goal.
The Boston College junior finished with seven points, less than half her season average, and “Splash Sister” Nicole Boudreau only managed to score three as the Eagles (13-12, 1-11 Atlantic Coast) lost 61-50 to the University of Virginia (14-12, 4-8) on Sunday in Chestnut Hill.
“They have good athletes, big players,” BC head coach Erik Johnson said of Virginia in his postgame press conference. “They can really stick to our shooters.”
Stick they did.
Cavaliers guard Breyana Mason was stapled to Hughes all evening, forcing Hughes, BC’s top scorer, into a 3-for-14 night from the field.
Working with a minus-six offensive rebounding deficit, the Eagles entered the locker room at halftime having been outshot 37-24. Compounding that disparity was BC’s issues dealing with Virginia’s full court zone press—Johnson’s team burped up seven turnovers in the first quarter, many of which came on ill-conceived passes up the floor.
Success was hard to come by on the other end for much of the night, too. Johnson audibled to a 2-3 zone after the Cavaliers racked up 19 first-quarter points.
Averaging 15.1 points per contest entering the game, UVA’s Mikayla Venson, who has the handles of Kyrie Irving, put a quick end to that defensive experiment.
By the end of the third period, Virginia had built an 18-point lead.
The Eagles ripped off a 14-2 run to start the fourth quarter behind stellar play from redshirt junior Kailey Edwards, but it proved too little too late. The damage had been done in the first three periods, and Virginia handed BC its seventh straight loss in ACC play.
Ever the optimist, Johnson is convinced that his team’s level of play has far exceeded its record.
“If you’d told me that my team was gonna be 1-11 in ACC play, I would have told you you’re crazy,” he said. “We’re better than we were last year. We’ve got better culture, we’ve got better talent, we’ve got an inside game with [freshman center Mariella Fasoula].”
He’s right. Glimmers of hope abound, but Fasoula deserves the loudest applause. She has put up double figures in the scoring column in each of her last 11 games—that’s remarkable consistency.
On Sunday, she scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and snared five rebounds.
Fasoula excels at establishing deep position with her large frame and catching lob passes over the top of the defense for easy deuces.
But her game isn’t solely predicated on brute strength—she has a craft down low, as well.
On one possession midway through the first quarter, Fasoula stood at the left elbow, searching for open teammates. When no one broke free, she drove middle, executed a nifty spin back toward the baseline, and finished with a lefty scoop.
Absent from the BC bench was redshirt freshman forward Ella Awobajo, who watched the game in street clothes from a lower bowl section near the main concourse.
“Life is bigger than just basketball,” Johnson said. “Sometimes players have some struggles off the court. You know, Ella just needed a little break right now to be able to get some things together. She’s a wonderful kid. We’re hoping to get her back soon.”
The prevailing color on Sunday night wasn’t maroon, gold, blue, or orange—it was bubble gum pink.
To raise awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which was established in 2007 by former North Carolina State University coach Kay Yow, both teams trotted out pink-themed jersey kits. BC players wore pink Under Armour shoes, and coaches from both teams threw on their hottest garb in support of the initiative.
The Play 4Kay event hits home for the BC women’s basketball program.
Hoops alum Clare Droesch is currently waging a battle with breast cancer, and Johnson used the evening’s theme as an opportunity to have Droesch FaceTime with the team before the game.
“This game was about a lot more than just basketball,” Johnson said. “It was a big learning experience for our players.”
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor