Women's Basketball

Ortlepp’s Career Day Not Enough in Regular Season Finale at Syracuse

Once again, Boston College women’s basketball’s inability to put together a complete, polished 40-minute performance proved too much to overcome. The Eagles were outlasted on the road by Syracuse, 69-63, despite a 28-point, career-best performance from sophomore guard Taylor Ortlepp.

Despite continuity being something that BC (7-22, 2-14 Atlantic Coast) head coach Erik Johnson has been emphasizing throughout the year, the struggles have been especially prominent in recent games. The Eagle’s tendency to drift in and out of games has led to increasing frustration for Johnson and Co.

What has now become a characteristically sluggish start for BC was again to the fore, as they were caught napping in the first quarter, finding themselves down by eight, 19-11, after just 10 minutes of play.

BC’s lackluster shooting reflected the opening exchanges, with the team’s leading scorer Milan Bolden-Morris struggling to find her rhythm early on, as she went 0-for-5 from the field. The beginning of the second quarter signaled a marked improvement in both BC’s and Bolden- Morris’ fortunes, as the Eagles managed to pile up 19 points of its own in the quarter behind three 3-pointers from the freshman guard.

This coincided with an equally elevated level of energy on defense, which allowed the Eagles to hold the Orange (22-6, 10-6) to just 13 points for the quarter. The intensity they originally came out with on offense, however, gradually faded, and BC failed to register a single point in the final two and a half minutes of the half. This reduced any hopes that the Eagles had of heading into the break with a slender one-point lead.

Another lapse in BC’s concentration down the stretch permitted the Orange’s Tiana Mangakahia to find space in the corner, and the Australian knocked down the 3-pointer with just 30 seconds remaining to send Syracuse into the intermission with the lead, as the score stood at 32-30.

The Eagles went blow for blow with the Orange at the start of the second, as Ortlepp started to catch fire en route to a career day. She would end the half with six 3-pointers, one of which pushed BC into the fourth quarter with things tied up at 45.

Yet the Eagles suddenly found room hard to come by inside the paint, preventing them from picking up easy buckets. They also had a hard time booking trips to the line. Much of the success BC has had this year has been based upon the frequency with which they can get to the charity stripe, but with this avenue blocked, points were difficult to come by.

Still, the Eagles remained afloat, and Ortlepp sunk a crucial 3-pointer while being fouled to complete a four-point play with just seven minutes left. BC, somehow, was leading by three, heading into the final five minutes. But it was only a matter of time before it yielded a seven-point run to Syracuse. Ortlepp, again, was responsible for cutting into the lead with a crucial 3-pointer. She willed her team back to a one-point deficit with 2:53 to play, but Mangakahia would come up big in the clutch. When the Orange needed her most, the sophomore closed out the game with seven points in the final two minutes.

The result handed BC a 2-13 final record in conference play, good for the 13th seed in the upcoming ACC tournament. The Eagles will face No. 12 North Carolina on Wednesday, looking to make at least some noise in postseason play.

Still, Johnson and BC will undoubtedly be disappointed with their showing for this year. The Eagles have flirted with consistency at times over the past 6 months, which will give the group cause for optimism looking ahead to next year—but they managed just seven wins, two less than last year’s paltry mark.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

February 25, 2018