Sports, Top Story, Women's Basketball

Dickens’ Heroics Help BC Top Duke in Double Overtime Thriller

Over the last few weeks, Boston College women’s basketball point guard Makayla Dickens has done it all for the Eagles. Since working her way into the starting lineup two games prior to conference play, Dickens has been running the point and filling the box score in a variety of ways. After Thursday night’s game against Duke, she can add making clutch shots to her young resume. On two separate occasions, Dickens came through when BC needed her most, first hitting a buzzer beater to force overtime, and then nailing a runner in double overtime to win the game, 92-90.

“I aged about 10 years and have about 30 more gray hairs,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “Makayla [Dickens] gives them to me, but then she plays the type of game that she just played. Like I told her, I don’t know how many freshmen I could yell at as much as I yelled at her and then still have the poise to hit such big shots.”

Having lost three straight, the Eagles (14-7, 3-5 Atlantic Coast) needed a victory and Duke (9-11, 1-7), which had a lone ACC win to its name, presented the perfect opportunity to rebound. After the first quarter—in which BC outscored Duke, 18-9—it appeared that the Eagles were well on their way to a victory. The Blue Devils showed fight as the road team, though, taking advantage of numerous BC fouls and turnovers to close what had grown to be an 11-point deficit.

Georgia Pineau was the star in the early going, scoring 13 points in the first frame. The Blue Devils regrouped, cutting down on turnovers while also finding their stroke from deep. Duke didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the first 10 minutes of regulation, but bounced back by hitting five in the second quarter. Miela Goodchild connected on three of them, and although Dickens hit three triples of her own, BC’s lead disappeared, as the teams went into the break tied at 34.

The Eagles’ struggles largely continued in the third quarter. Goodchild continued to hit outside shots while Leaonna Odom imposed her will in the paint for Duke. Emma Guy, who was held scoreless in the first half, came alive by totaling seven points and several rebounds in the third frame, preventing the Blue Devils from pulling away. Milan Bolden-Morris came off the bench for the Eagles and provided a huge spark, nailing a trio of 3-pointers to close the deficit—they only trailed by one into the fourth.

Dickens dialed up two triples at the outset of the final quarter, and Guy chipped in a layup to give the Eagles a four-point lead. BC’s offense went cold and didn’t score for five minutes, watching as Duke went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead. Sydney Lowery finally broke her team out of the slump with a 3-pointer at the two-minute mark, and neither team could find a basket until a mere 25 seconds remained in the game.

Duke’s Onome Akinbode-James hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game. Bernabei-McNamee called timeout and drew up a play—which ended with a missed Dickens 3-pointer—but fortune was on the Eagles’ side, as Akinbode-James turned the ball over. Guy couldn’t tie it up—she finished 3-of-11 from the field—but Dickens grabbed the offensive board and netted a last-second shot from the top of the key to force overtime.

The Eagles and Blue Devils traded blows in the first overtime. Haley Gorecki, Duke’s leading scorer, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to answer an early Dickens triple to give the Blue Devils a three-point edge, but BC didn’t give in. Taylor Ortlepp and Lowery would hit successive layups to take a one-point lead with just five seconds left.

Just as Lowery nearly won the game, she nearly lost it on the next play. Gorecki received the inbound and began to drive to the basket, and Lowery was whistled for a foul. With Gorecki shooting two from the line, she had the chance to all but secure the win. Despite calmly sinking clutch jumpers all night, the star guard buckled under pressure, missing her first free throw but hitting the second to force double overtime.

BC had to navigate a whole slew of foul trouble, as Guy had already fouled out in the first overtime, and Lowery, Ortlepp, and Pineau each had four fouls. The Eagles played a zone defense to start, and the Blue Devils made them pay, hitting a number of outside shots. Duke found itself in the driver’s seat with an 86-81 lead, but BC rallied. Ortlepp—who was sick throughout the week and was quiet in regulation—gutted it out when her team needed her most. She hit a crucial 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in a 30-second span to tie the game up.

Duke went back to the line, with Gorecki and Odom both hitting one of their two free throws. The Blue Devils had plenty of chances to put the game away but finished just 20-of-32 (62.5 percent) from the charity stripe. Ortlepp sunk two more free throws, but Duke’s Jade Williams scored a layup with 49 seconds left that seemed to seal the deal, as Dickens missed a 3-pointer on the next possession.

The Blue Devils inbounded the ball, but the Eagles’ aggressive defense forced a turnover on Goodchild. Taylor Soule scooped it up and hit the game-tying layup, her only the bucket of the game, but it could not have come at a better time. BC continued to put pressure on Duke, forcing a miss from Odom on the other end and grabbing the rebound. Bernabei-McNamee called a timeout and drew up a play for her freshman guard, who received the inbound and— despite being surrounded by two defenders—lofted a running jumper. The shot fell, polishing off a career-high 25-point performance for Dickens.

“It didn’t matter who took the shot,” Dickens said. “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me, and I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. I just saw an opening and I took it.”

Dickens has registered at least 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists in each of her past three games for the Eagles, an impressive run for any player, especially a freshman. While the game revealed plenty of flaws—BC lost focus in the second, turned the ball over 19 times on the game, and shot just 43 percent from the field—the team still recorded its third conference win, a mark it failed to reach last season. At the end of the day, last week’s loss to Miami came down to painful failures in late-game execution. On Thursday night, the Eagles showed that they have learned from their mistakes, yet another sign of growth under Bernabei-McNamee.

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor

February 1, 2019