Women's Basketball

Eagles Falter on Senior Night to Syracuse

With about seven minutes left in women’s basketball’s matchup against Syracuse, the Eagles tried to answer an Orange 3-pointer with a fast break. As junior forward Kailey Edwards dribbled in for the easy layup, ’Cuse star Brittney Sykes swooped in from seemingly nowhere and served up a thunderous block.

That was the name of the game Thursday night, as Boston College (14-14, 2-13 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 18 Syracuse (23-6, 13-3) 71-55 on senior night. Nicole Boudreau and Alexa Coulombe played what was probably their last game at Conte Forum.

Syracuse came out hard on defense, running an aggressive full-court press that forced a couple early errant passes and steals. Boudreau often found herself all alone in the backcourt with three ’Cuse defenders.

“I need to do a better job of finding ways to set up our players, obviously the press really, really hurt us tonight,” head coach Erik Johnson said.

Isabella Slim opened up the scoring with a wide-open 3-pointer for the Orange two minutes in. After a Syracuse steal on an inbound and an easy basket by Sykes, Edwards was left wide-open herself, hitting back with a three to get BC on the board.

After that, the game seemed like it might get away from the Eagles a bit. ’Cuse got out to a 20-12 lead, sticking with its suffocating and effective defense. But BC reeled the Orange in late in the period with a couple steals and clutch passes, and Boudreau hit a three at the quarter buzzer—22-21, just like that. Never mind their conference record, maybe the Eagles could take this thing.

But that was always going to be pretty hard to do against a Syracuse team on an eight-game winning streak, especially for a BC squad that gives up almost 10 points per game more than it scores.

It wasn’t until the second quarter that BC visibly ran out of luck. After a couple free throws and a Kelly Hughes 3-pointer made it 29-29, BC went ice cold and failed to make a shot for nearly the last seven minutes of the half.

Syracuse kept on going on the strength of Sykes, junior guard Alexis Peterson, and Brianna Butler, who led the field with 19 points, and the Orange outgunned the Eagles, 37 shots to 17, in the first half. That full-court press did wonders for head coach Quentin Hillsman’s team, which went into the break up 39-29 and forced 33 turnovers in the game, while committing 17.

The second half didn’t get any better for BC. It took another five minutes for the Eagles to get on the board, 11 dry minutes total. Even Syracuse slowed down, spending almost five minutes stuck at 42 points. Some hustle from freshman Eagle Mariella Fasoula, who scored 15 on the night with eight boards, and a couple 3-pointers from star sharpshooter Hughes made it 45-39 Syracuse with just under three to go in the third period. A couple more baskets and it was 47-43, and maybe just may—ah, Sykes steals it on an inbounds pass for a layup. The Eagles’ momentum hit a wall, and Syracuse led 52-43 entering the final frame.

The fourth quarter stuck to the script, as the Eagles spent almost eight minutes with 47 points, and the Orange racked them up bit by bit—a Butler 3-pointer here, a Sykes and-one there. BC held ’Cuse to 40 percent shooting on the night, 32.2 percent from downtown, but try as they might, the Eagles couldn’t keep every shot out. To its credit, BC shot 46.7 percent from beyond the arc, cause for a little cautious optimism in the face of its upcoming matchup with No. 2 Notre Dame (26-1, 14-0).

“The ACC keeps affording you opportunities to go shock the world—well guess what, we’ve got another one in two days,” Johnson said.

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff

February 26, 2016