Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Best Columbia in Bounce-Back Win

Boston College women’s basketball reclaimed Conte Forum Sunday afternoon in a game against Columbia, shaking off its first loss of the season against Providence earlier in the week. After shooting just 30 percent from the floor and connecting on two of their 16 attempts from the 3-point line against the Friars, the Eagles managed to piece together a slightly more cohesive offensive performance in Sunday’s game, shooting at a 45.7 percent clip with four players in double digits en route to a 74-60 victory.

BC (7-1) showcased its depth with a slew of non-starters proving invaluable on the scoresheet against the Lions (2-6). While the Eagles’ strength still seems to still rest in their capable defense—they’ve held opponents under 70 points in each game this year—they’ve also begun to shake off their poor shooting woes, regaining confidence in the second of a nine-game homestand.

BC’s offense sputtered slightly after Columbia won the tip, as the Eagles allowed the Lions the first score of the game coming off a personal foul on Taylor Soule. Shots were not falling for either team early in the first quarter, until Taylor Ortlepp sunk a three to put the Eagles on the board. BC then found its offensive rhythm, with a jumper by Georgia Pineau hoisting the Eagles to a 5-1 lead with 6:25 to play. The Lions proved to be scrappy in the paint, however, connecting on layups to stay within striking distance.

Joanna Bernabei-McNamee turned to her bench, and it proved to be perfect decision—BC’s Makayla Dickens and Sydney Lowery proved to be the key response. Lowery drilled two 3-pointers and added an assist in her first three minutes on the court, while Dickens widened the lead with a pivotal steal in the final minutes of the quarter, setting up Soule in the paint for an easy layup.

“I did a lot of self-talk about staying calm and shooting my shot when I was open,” Lowery said. “We came in pretty upset about the loss against Providence, so we knew we needed that focus in order to not lose this game.”

Shooting 50 percent from the floor, the Eagles built a 21-14 lead in the first quarter. Despite cooling off in the second quarter, they still held a narrow six-point lead over the Lions at the half, refusing to allow a Columbia field goal in the final two and a half minutes.

The Eagles escalated this defensive pressure while also upping their scoring game in the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run to harness a double-digit lead behind six points from point guard Marnelle Garraud.

Columbia’s Sienna Durr whittled the lead, going 2-for-2 at the charity stripe before teammate Mikayla Markham forced a turnover and sent a pass ahead to Riley Casey in hopes of forcing a 7-point game. Casey’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim, though, and Garraud got the rebound, hustling down the court where she found Lowery.

Lowery found herself with another opportunity to launch a 3-pointer, but instead exhibited patience in the Eagles’ need to run an offense, connecting with Dickens who went in for an easy layup and widened the score once again. Durr responded in kind with a 3-pointer, but Georgia Pineau quickly answered and the Eagles again held Columbia scoreless in the final three minutes of the quarter. Piling up 21 points in the third alone, BC entered the last 10 minutes with their biggest lead of the game at 14.

Soule opened up the final quarter with a stealthy offensive rebound and an easy layup inside to set the tone. A long two by Pineau—who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds—was quickly followed by another Soule layup. The early fourth-quarter surge allowed the Eagles to comfortably close out their non-conference opponent.

BC made it difficult inside the paint for the Lions and were able to contain the Columbia shooters in the second half. With BC coaches shouting at Dickens to be aware of players on the outside as the clock wound down, the Eagles continued to limit Columbia’s offensive weapons. A half hook in the post by BC’s Clara Ford widened the lead to 20 points, and the Eagles ran away with the game, tallying their seventh victory to tie their win total from all of last season.

“It’s always great to get a win at home,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “And the great thing about this one is we have a lot to learn from it. This certainly wasn’t our best basketball.”

Despite recent scoring struggles, this BC team has proven itself to be one of the best in recent years. The qualities that don’t show up on the stats sheet are incredibly evident on the court in gritty hustle plays and acute attention to detail.

“The BC coaching staff believes in us all, and that helps when you feel like your shot is not falling,” Lowery said. “We want to show people that BC women’s basketball is still here. We want our names back on the map.”

Featured Image by Katie Genirs / Heights Editor

December 2, 2018