Women's Basketball

Despite Hughes’s Record, Women’s Basketball Crushed by Duke

In 2015, Boston College women’s basketball welcomed a ranked Duke University team to Conte Forum. Bolstered by lights-out 3-point shooting from Emilee Daley and Nicole Boudreau, the Eagles pulled off a stunning upset of the Blue Devils, 60-56. Fast forward to 2017, and BC welcomed No.15 Blue Devils to Conte Forum again, hoping to recreate the surprise victory two years later. And although the Eagles kept it close in the first half, they lost momentum in the third quarter, suffering a 67-44 defeat.

Once again, 3-pointers were significant in the matchup, but this time for a different reason. BC (8-12, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) shot 4-for-19 from beyond the arc, making one in each quarter. But it was enough for senior guard Kelly Hughes to reach two important milestones. In the first quarter, Hughes sank a triple to reach 300 career 3-pointers. In the third quarter, she hit her second three of the game to set a new all-time BC 3-point record, male or female, with 301 career treys. Hughes broke the record of 300 set previously by Troy Bell.

Duke (17-3, 5-2) and BC played competitively throughout the first half. After allowing the Blue Devils to jump out to a quick 7-2 lead, the Eagles clawed back. Hughes scored seven-straight points for BC, cutting the lead to 11-9. With just under a minute to go, Taylor Ortlepp was fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. She calmly sank all three free throws to give the Eagles their first lead of the game, 12-11, heading into the second quarter.

The game stayed close and competitive at the start of the second quarter. The two teams traded baskets, with neither taking a lead of more than one point for almost three minutes. A pair of free throws from Kailey Edwards gave the Eagles a three-point lead, but Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell tied it up seconds later with a 3-pointer. Taylor Ortlepp regained the lead for BC with a trey of her own, and then the teams traded baskets again, unable to pull away for a multi-possession lead until the final minute.

With 56 seconds to go in the half, Rebecca Greenwell made a 3-pointer to give Duke a four point lead. It looked as though the Blue Devils would take that lead into halftime—until Edwards chucked up a shot as the buzzer went off. She missed, but was fouled in the act of shooting, so she went to the free throw line to try to reduce Duke’s lead to one point heading into the half. Edwards made all three free throws and the teams headed into the locker rooms with the score at 29-28 in Duke’s favor.

That’s when the troubles started.

“We haven’t quite figured out how to play in the third quarter,” Hughes said. “We’re right there with teams coming out of the locker room, and then the third quarter hits and we’re playing back on our heels.”

The Eagles certainly struggled in the third quarter. Although the game remained competitive for several minutes, Duke broke away with five minutes to go in the quarter. Kendall Cooper made a jumper to give Duke a three-point lead. Seconds later, Greenwell stole the ball from BC and found Kyra Lambert open for a layup, pushing the lead to five points. With just over three minutes to go, Cooper made a layup herself, pushing the lead to seven points. And with just under three minutes to go, Lambert drained a 3-pointer and suddenly Duke had a 10 point lead. At the end of the third quarter, that lead had grown to 15 points, as the Blue Devils led 52-37.

Meanwhile, BC struggled to score for most of the third and fourth quarters. With seven and a half minutes to go in the quarter, Mariella Fasoula sank a pair of free throws. The Eagles then didn’t score for five minutes. With just over two minutes to go, Hughes converted two shots from the charity stripe. After Hughes’s free throws, BC struggled through a scoring drought that lasted until there were only three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

While BC failed to score, Duke pulled away. Greenwell, Lambert, and Brown each scored to push the Blue Devils’ lead beyond 20 points to 25 and then 28. Duke never actually reached a 30-point lead in the game, but the damage was done.

Fasoula broke the scoring drought with a layup with three minutes remaining in the game, bringing the score to 65-39. Emilee Daley made a layup to further cut into the lead, but then Oderah Chidom responded with a layup herself. With seconds left, it seemed like the game would end at 67-41, Duke. But with less than ten seconds to go, Daley grabbed an offensive rebound off of a free throw. She passed to Edwards, who wheeled around and kicked it back out to Daley, now positioned beyond the arc. Daley sank a three as time expired, prompting cheers from the younger fans in attendance, but the buzzer-beater did nothing but reduce the lead to 23 points. Duke finished the game with a 67-44 lead.

Although the Eagles stayed competitive throughout the first half, Duke overshadowed them in almost every category. The Eagles were 14-for-18 from the free throw line, including a perfect 14-for-14 through three quarters, for 77.8 percent accuracy from behind the line. Duke, by contrast, converted only two of its six opportunities for 33.3 percent. BC hauled in 12 offensive rebounds compared to Duke’s 11, but the Blue Devils outrebounded it in general, grabbing 40 boards compared to BC’s 38. Duke shot 45.3 percent from the field, compared to a dismal 25 percent from the Eagles. And the Blue Devils shot 46.7 percent from beyond the arc, while BC shot just 21.1 percent.

The effort was not enough to defeat a ranked conference opponent. After the game, head coach Erik Johnson accepted responsibility for the loss, but emphasized that he believes his team should have been able to hang in there better in the second half.

“We’re better than that,” he said. “We need to be better than that.”

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

January 22, 2017