Women's Basketball

Red-Hot Virginia Dominates Paint, Defeats Eagles

Just like she has for much of this season, Virginia’s J’Kyra Brown came off the bench during Thursday night’s game against Boston College women’s basketball. Yet, once again, the Cavaliers’ third-leading scorer made an impact, putting the Eagles in the rearview mirror.

She dribbled down the court, looking for a hole in BC’s defense. Knowing teammate Dominique Toussaint stood behind her, she decided to storm the paint, drawing defenders in the process. She then instinctively flipped a pass to a wide-open Toussaint, who drilled the 3-pointer. The tandem wasn’t finished either: Brown ran back on defense and quickly swatted the ball out of Martina Mossetti’s hands. As she grabbed it, Toussaint found open space in transition. Brown fired the ball to Toussaint, who then lobbed it back to her senior teammate without taking a dribble. Brown caught it mid-jump and rolled it off the glass and into the hoop as the referee called a shooting foul. This sequence started a run to end the first half, giving UVA a lead that it would not relinquish in a 68-57 victory over the Eagles—the Cavaliers’ eighth straight.  

BC (6-10, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) came into the contest riding high after a dominant 13-point win against North Carolina last Friday. Its performance looked like one that could turn around a shaky start to the season at just the right time. The Eagles’ game against the Tar Heels was the second of an important 14-game conference stretch that will ultimately define their season.

BC needed to play tight defense and limit 6-foot-9 center Felicia Aiyeotan’s opportunities in order to stick around a Virginia (12-6, 5-0) team that came into the game tied for first in the ACC standings. In the first quarter, the Eagles did just that. A Milan Bolden-Morris 3-pointer capped a scoring barrage that gave BC a 7-2 advantage in the early going. The remainder of the first quarter became a tale of two players. Toussaint helped UVA grab the lead by scoring seven points on a 9-0 Virginia run. In response, Eagles sophomore forward Emma Guy scored six points in the last three minutes of the quarter. Late buckets by Lisa Jablonski and Jocelyn Willoughby silenced Guy and awarded the Cavaliers a 15-11 lead going into the second frame.

UVA clung to an advantage that never grew larger than five in the first seven minutes of the second quarter. With 2:53 left, Toussaint broke the plateau, hitting a 3-pointer that gave Virginia a 26-19 advantage. This was just the start of a debilitating 15-2 run by the Cavaliers—one featuring 3-pointers by Aliyah Huland El and Willoughby to close out the period. BC played a great first 17 minutes, but it was the half’s final three that turned the tide of the game. The Eagles clearly needed to adjust as it headed into the locker room trailing, 38-21.

BC managed to tread water for the majority of the third quarter. It found itself down 16 points with just over two and a half minutes left, but needed to start chipping away at the lead before it was too late. Guy, continuing her hard-nosed performance, ignited the Eagles’ offense by banking in a layup, giving her 12 points on the night. Taylor Ortlepp and Andie Anastos followed suit, netting a pair of 3-pointers. All of a sudden, UVA’s lead had shrunk to 10 with 1:14 left in the third period. As Anastos’ 3-pointer swished in, fired-up head coach Erik Johnson energetically high-fived everyone on the BC bench. The Eagles were alive and ready to stun Virginia in front of its home crowd.

The teams traded baskets at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but BC’s chances of winning were diminished as the clock continued to tick away. With less than six minutes remaining, Aiyeotan made a looping layup to give the Cavaliers a 61-49 lead. This score would hold for the next two minutes—a scoring drought that the Eagles could not afford to endure. The lead was back to 10 with three and a half minutes to go, and the game looked all but over.

At this point, Johnson made it clear that the Eagles would play until the final buzzer, calling a timeout and motivating his team to make something happen. Even after the game got out of reach, the six-year head coach called two more timeouts over the course of the final minute of play. BC played hard the rest of the way, but failed to make a move in an 11-point loss. Down the stretch, it seemed as if Johnson was preparing his squad for Saturday’s Holy War matchup against No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, which is sure to be BC’s toughest test yet.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

January 11, 2018