Top Story, Women's Basketball

Eagles’ Lead Dissipates in Lopsided Second Half at No. 9 Florida State

No. 9 in the nation, 11-1 at home, and an all-senior starting lineup. “So what?” said Boston College women’s basketball in the first half on Thursday night against Florida State. A trio of triples gave the Eagles a nine-point advantage to open the game. BC played inspired defense and was hitting shots left and right to take a lead into the half, despite playing its third top-10 opponent in a row. BC held FSU to 38.5 percent shooting in the opening half, eight points lower than the Seminoles’ season average. Unlike the fast start against Louisville, BC was leading the ninth-ranked team in the country with just 20 minutes left to play.

It was in those 20 minutes that FSU justified its ranking.

The Seminoles outscored the Eagles, 42-12, in the latter portion of BC’s penultimate game of the regular season. BC was plagued by issues that have haunted it all season, namely turnovers—in fact, the Eagles coughed the ball up 19 times, resulting in 26 Seminole points. They couldn’t neutralize FSU’s size advantage, losing the rebounding battle, 34-19, and thoughts of an upset faded as fast as they had developed, as FSU ran away with the victory, 67-39.

BC (7-21, 2-13 Atlantic Coast) opened the game in exactly the fashion it needed to take down a top-10 opponent. Taylor Ortlepp, fresh off her 24-point career-high performance against Notre Dame, Milan Bolden-Morris, and Georgia Pineau all hit 3-pointers on the way to a 9-0 run to start the game. BC thrived off of an early turnover, and took advantage when the Seminoles failed to close out to the 3-point line. With the triple, Bolden-Morris drilled her 75th deep ball of the season, breaking Kelly Hughes’ single season record.

But following the initial run, FSU (23-5, 11-4) finished the first quarter on a 16-2 run of its own. It limited its turnovers, and Shakayla Thomas took advantage of an undersized BC frontcourt, finishing in the paint with ease.

In a game that looked like it was getting away from the Eagles, BC tightened up its defense in the second quarter. The Eagles’ zone put pressure on ball handlers and cracked down on passing lanes, obstructing the Seminoles’ ball movement. BC allowed just nine points in the second frame, forcing seven turnovers and making FSU take tough shots.

On the offensive side of the ball, it was graduate guard Andie Anastos who took over in the second. Hours after five current and former BC women’s hockey players took gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the ex-hockey star scored seven of BC’s 16 points in the quarter, facilitating the comeback. The Eagles did a better job of getting good looks and escaping the swarming double teams that the Seminoles threw at them. All in all, BC clawed its way back into the game, and was able to take a two-point lead into the half, 27-25.

Head coach Erik Johnson was pleased with how his team performed in the first half, and he believed the key to the Eagles pulling out a victory was whether or not they could translate their success to the back half of play.

“Possession by possession, we just have to be consistent now,” Johnson told the ACC Digital Network at halftime.

However, BC was anything but consistent in the second half. The third quarter saw the Seminoles tighten up their 1-3-1 zone. BC tried to continue playing at a slow pace, using almost all of the shot clock every possession to limit FSU’s firepower, but this tactic did not put the Eagles in position to get good shot opportunities. Johnson’s team struggled to get open looks from deep, as FSU closed out on shooters much quicker than it did in the opening period. After hitting five 3-pointers in the first half, the Eagles went just 1-for-8 from deep in the second frame. When all was said and done, Bolden-Morris and Ortlepp combined to shoot just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.

FSU, on the other hand, hit its offensive stride in the third quarter. The Seminoles put up 22 points, as they focused increasingly on offensive rebounding, getting to the charity stripe, and running out in transition, especially following BC turnovers. A.J. Alix piloted the outburst, as the guard was locked in, nearing a triple double with 11 points, 11 boards, and seven assists for the game.

The fourth quarter was just as frustrating for the Eagles. They scored just five points and committed seven fouls in the first four minutes of the frame, characteristic of tired, lackluster defending. FSU ran up and down the court, hustling for baskets and finishing the game on a 22-5 run. The Seminoles dominated inside, continuing to rack up points in the paint and at the line. They shot 19 free throws in the game, compared to just two for the Eagles. The points in the paint battle saw FSU more than double BC’s total, 30-14.

The aggressiveness that BC brought to both sides of the floor evaporated along with its lead throughout the second half. The squad lost its intensity and any kind of ball security that it once had, losing the rock 12 times in the second half alone. Despite a competitive first half, the 39-point blowout will be remembered as nothing more than a disappointing finish for an Eagles team that is limping to the end of the regular season.

Featured Image by Suzy Kim / Heights Staff

February 22, 2018