Women's Basketball

Eagles Stifle Campbell in Opening Quarter, Coast to Convincing Win

In the opening minute of Friday night’s game, when Campbell guard Hayley Barber pulled up and sank a jumper from just outside the post after a turnover from Boston College women’s basketball forward Emma Guy, many were caught off guard. Despite playing in the lesser known Big South conference, the visiting Camels entered with just two losses—one in overtime—and had the potential to play spoiler in BC’s final game before a week-long holiday break.

Those hopes quickly came crashing back to earth, though. The Eagles asserted themselves, going on a remarkable 18-0 run and holding Campbell to a single point the rest of the first quarter, building an insurmountable lead, en route to a 76-56 win on Friday night at Conte Forum.

“I thought we were rolling in the first quarter. We were rolling defensively and we only gave up three [points],” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference, per BCEagles.com. “I was proud of them for locking in and getting a good win, even though it wasn’t always pretty.”

While BC (10-2) had to deal with the loss of starting forward Taylor Soule to injury and played nearly even with its visitors the rest of the way, the victory was still by a comfortable 20-point margin. That was largely due to a career-best 25 points from Emma Guy, who pulled in seven rebounds and shot 7-of-10 from the charity stripe. Marnelle Garraud, Georgia Pineau, and Taylor Ortlepp all reached double-digits in scoring, while BC nearly scored 80 points even though it took just nine shots from distance and only connected on two of them. This was the product of Guy’s effectiveness inside, as she took advantage of a weak interior defense from Campbell (7-3).

“Emma really showed what she can do inside,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “She looked pretty unstoppable. I want [us] to take the easiest shot, and that’s not always going to be a three. I’m really big on trying to go inside out.”

The Eagles shot 51 percent from the field and piled up 48 points in the paint, consistently creating chances inside. They also finished with seven fewer turnovers than the Camels while outrebounding their visitors by nine. The edge in these categories, paired with seven blocks and nearly 10 more free throw attempts, allowed BC to take its foot off the pedal and coast after the first quarter.

The opening stanza was nothing short of dominant. The Eagles forced nine turnovers after Barber’s game-opening bucket, coming away with three blocks and five steals. The 18-point swing for BC was kickstarted by a layup from Pineau, who would finish with 11 points. Guy would score five of her teams next seven points, then everyone got involved—Ortlepp hit a layup, Makayla Dickens had a fast-break bucket, Soule sunk a free throw, and Pineau scored again.

By the time Campbell’s Lauren Carter stopped the bleeding with a lone free throw with 21 seconds left in the quarter, her team was staring up at a 15-point deficit. It was deja vu for the Camels, who, back on Dec. 13, had fallen behind by double-digits to Howard after the first 10 minutes. Campbell would go on to force overtime (and lose) in that game—a degree of closeness that wasn’t in the cards against BC.

While the Camels would hold a slight 16-15 edge in the second quarter, the Eagles kept their distance after the break. They heated up with 43 second-half points and ultimately held their visitors scoreless in the final three minutes of the game to seal a decisive home victory. The calming force was Guy, who piled up 19 points in the second half alone. Bernabei-McNamee cited the junior forward’s connection with her teammates on the perimeter as a key to their success. Guy’s first two baskets came off of feeds from Pineau, someone whose passing ability was described glowingly.

“It’s the collective whole with us playing inside out,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Georgia [Pineau] is one of the best high-low passers around. She’s got good teammates around her that are going to help her succeed in putting up big numbers.”

Pineau had a busy day, filling up the box score with seven rebounds, six assists, four blocks, and two steals. Ortlepp and Garraud were equally pesky on the defensive end, combining for seven steals in a win for BC that featured the team’s most blocked shots and second-most steals in a single game this season.

Friday night’s victory isn’t necessarily the biggest achievement for the Eagles—the Camels entered nearly 200th in RPI—but its still an incredibly significant one. BC last won double-digit games in a season in 2015-16 when it finished 15-16, while the last two years have featured a combined 16 wins. Now, under Bernabei-McNamee, the Eagles are within striking distance of reaching that combined total in 2018-19. The road ahead is difficult, as BC has just one non-conference game remaining, but with the Guy and Pineau playing at the highest level, their experience should be enough to at least makes things interesting in the country’s best conference.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

December 22, 2018