Women's Basketball

Balanced Offense Lifts Eagles to Convincing Win Over Loyola Maryland

After grinding out a tough win against Houston last week, Boston College women’s basketball found itself facing its polar opposite on Saturday afternoon in its first game of the 25th annual Hawk Classic in Philadelphia. The Eagles, boasting a perfect record and a dynamic offense, squared off against a winless Loyola Maryland—a team defined by its inability to score points.

The result, as one might of predicted, wasn’t close. Behind a strong push after halftime, BC erased any doubt and pulled away for a 73-46 win, setting the Eagles (5-0) up for a Sunday afternoon second-round matchup with Rider.

In its win against Houston, BC’s offense looked vulnerable for the first time, failing to crack 80 points after a dominant three-game stretch. The Eagles returned to their earlier success against the Greyhounds, though, as they shot 51 percent from the field and scored 21 points in each of the final two quarters. While this was a strong win for BC, it certainly was not a blowout from start to finish.

Although the Eagles closed out the first quarter with a 15-7 lead, the game became tighter in the ensuing period. Loyola managed to cut its deficit to just two points near the end of the second quarter. But unfortunately for the Greyhounds, BC scored the last five points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beater 3-pointer by Milan Bolden-Morris to put the Eagles up seven.

Bolden-Morris would finish with eight points, overshadowed by four other Eagles—Emma Guy, Georgia Pineau, Makayla Dickens, and Marnelle Garraud—that broke double digits in scoring. Guy, continuing an impressive start to the year, shot 7-of-8 from the field for 15 points and also picked up nine rebounds for a near double-double. Pineau and Dickens, meanwhile, showed up all over the stat sheet as they each recorded 5-plus assists and rebounds along with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Out of the break, BC began to pull away from Loyola. The Eagles’ shots were falling at a more consistent rate, and they controlled the boards. For the final three minutes of the third quarter, BC held the Greyhounds scoreless. Despite only scoring five points during that span, the Eagles had still extended their lead to 19 points, essentially putting the game out of reach.

The narrative in the third quarter was the same as the fourth. BC was clearly the superior team on both ends of the court. Loyola struggled to gain any offensive momentum while additionally failing to mount any resistance against the Eagles’ dynamic attack. When all was said and done, BC coasted to its fourth 20-plus point win of the season.

The Eagles outdueled the Greyhounds in almost every aspect of the game. BC converted 50.9 percent of its field goals compared to Loyola’s 32.7 percent, and it won the rebounding battle by a significant margin of 16 boards. The only negative statline for BC was its underwhelming 3-point percentage—the Eagles hit 7-of-23, or 30.3 percent. Still, head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee anticipated this earlier in the season, mentioning after a particularly bad 3-of-26 day from beyond the arc against Holy Cross that a young team is susceptible to fluctuating percentages.

Continually eclipsing 80 points is unsustainable for any team, and it looks like that has caught up to the Eagles. Skeptics may say that a 26-point victory over the Greyhounds is not that impressive considering the fact that the Loyola entered this contest ranking 347th in scoring offense, in other words, third worst in the nation. Still, BC was able to find its road legs and didn’t have to sweat much after the third quarter, again displaying its strength as a basketball team. The Eagles are a force on the glass, they contain their opponents on the defensive end, and they can count on multiple players to put points on the board.

With their win over Loyola, BC will face Rider, which narrowly triumphed over St. Joseph’s, 56-54. The Eagles’ last perfect start through five games happened in the 2015-16 season under Erik Johnson, but the wheels fell off in conference play, and the Eagles went on to finish the year 15-16. Up-tempo offense and a strong overall effort, however, has Bernabei-McNamee’s team gaining much-needed confidence before the going truly gets tough. You can’t infer much with a weak schedule, but the way the Eagles are playing right now looks far different from the team that went 2-14 in the ACC last season.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor

November 25, 2018