Women's Basketball

Providence Sends Cold-Shooting Eagles to First Loss

Fresh off a dazzling offensive display against Rider where it dropped 112 points, one shy of a program-best, Boston College women’s basketball learned about regression to the mean the hard way. The Eagles, hosting former Big East rival Providence, were held to a season-low in points, shooting just 30.1 percent from the field in a 61-57 loss, their first of the season.

Emma Guy was the only BC (6-1) player in double digits, but managed just 16 points on 17 shots, and the reigning Atlantic Coast Freshman of the Week—Marnelle Garraud—didn’t hit a shot until the third quarter and finished just 1-of-12 from the field. The Eagles failed to take advantage of 29 turnovers from the Friars (2-2) and, other than Guy—who hauled in 14 boards—BC lacked its characteristic energy on the boards as it was outrebounded for just the second time on the season.

“It was definitely a disappointing game for us,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said after. “The shots didn’t fall. We missed a lot of bunnies, a lot of threes. If you look at the shot attempts, our 73 to their 48 usually would equal us winning those games.”

BC did take 25 more shots than its Rhode Island counterpart, but went just 22-of-73 from the field and an especially bad 2-of-16 from beyond the arc. The Eagles had a similar poor 3-point shooting day earlier in the season against Saint Peter’s, but those struggles—they went 3-of-26—had been bailed out by plenty of success in the paint. The same couldn’t be said against Providence, who fought hard to force Guy and her teammates into uncomfortable shots.

“Our shots weren’t falling, but that’s on us,” Guy said. “We’ve got to finish our layups, we have to keep shooting. I mean, shooters shoot. That can’t let us fall.”

The struggles carried over to the free throw line, something Bernabei-McNamee was displeased with. The Eagles went just 11-of-18 at the charity stripe, a 61.1 percent mark that is four points below their season average and reflects the inconsistency they’ve faced. Providence had a much higher 80 percent (12-of-15) clip, and that was one of several things that swung the back-and-forth game in the Friars’ favor.

The game was tied 18 times, including at the end of the first quarter, and saw seven lead changes. Deadlocked at 13 apiece entering the second, Providence briefly took a lead, going up by four after center Alyssa Geary hit a wide-open 3-pointer. Geary’s freedom beyond the arc would prove to come back to haunt the Eagles, but first, they went on a 12-0 run. Garraud was the driving force of the run, finding Taylor Ortlepp for a layup, setting a screen for a Milan Bolden-Morris 3-pointer, and draining a pair of free throws.

BC built a lead as big as eight points, but Providence rallied to close the half strong. After a Garraud turnover, Maddie Jolin had a layup on a 3-on-1 chance, then the last bucket of the first 20 minutes was a corner 3-pointer from Jovana Nogic. She would appear on the other side of the break, too, connecting on another catch-and-shoot 3-pointer without a closeout from the Eagles. The 8-2 run from the Friars cut BC’s lead to just two, and neither team would be able to create a bigger lead than three points the rest of the way.

The third quarter was marked by an impressive offensive push from Providence, who hit 7-of-12 shots from the field—including four 3-pointers. The next three came from Nogic, Kaela Webb, and Geary, again, much to the chagrin of Bernabei-McNamee. BC’s perimeter defense, which had held opponents to under 20 percent in two of its last three games, wasn’t playing to its ability.

“You wouldn’t think we made an adjustment,” the Eagles’ first-year coach said when asked about trying to contain the Friars’ 3-point shooters, who hit four in the first half. “We just miscommunicated, and we have to grow up and get a lot smarter.”

Makayla Dickens, who normally provides a scoring spark off the bench for BC, had a nice push at the end of the third quarter—she sliced into the lane for a layup, then hit a game-tying 3-pointer with a second left on the clock. Still, Dickens and Garraud largely showed their inexperience throughout, combining for six turnovers and 3-of-18 from the field.

The fourth quarter was mired in sloppiness, with the Friars even traveling on successive possessions at one points. After Geary hit another 3-pointer, one of four for the freshman who’d finish with 13 points, BC responded quickly. Taylor Soule was fouled and hit both shots, then intercepted Providence’s press break attempt to set up a go-ahead layup from Guy. The lead didn’t last, though, as the Friars 5-foot-4 point guard, Channell Williams, provided the necessary boost.

First, Williams slipped into the lane, laying the ball up and in while Garraud fouled her for a three-point play. Guy answered with 40 seconds left off an inbounds play, drilling an open jumper to the left of the paint, but it was Williams that got the last laugh. The sophomore guard from Bronx, N.Y., saw the shot clock winding down in a tie game and made her move, spinning past Garraud in the lane and sinking a fadeaway layup. A lengthy 14.2 seconds later—offsetting technicals were called on Ortlepp and Jolin for a post-rebound scuffle—Williams was hitting two more free throws to seal the win.

She’d finish with 13 points, offsetting her remarkable seven turnovers. BC had chances to win in the waning minutes, but, unlike its only other close game of the season against Houston, it was betrayed by its poor shooting.

“I thought that it was just one of those games, I guess,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / For The Heights

November 28, 2018

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