Women's Basketball, Basketball

Losing Streak Hits Three As Eagles Blown Out at Syracuse

Conference play has been a harsh reality check for Boston College women’s basketball as of late, and things didn’t get any better when the Eagles traveled to the Carrier Dome to take on No. 15 Syracuse on Sunday afternoon. Having lost five of its last six coming in, BC leaned on Emma Guy—she dropped a career-high 30 points—but it was far from enough. While the Eagles kept up with the Orange in the first five minutes, they were thoroughly outmatched the rest of the way in what proved to be a 96-69 setback.

Guy poured in 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in an impressive double-double, while teammate Makayla Dickens sunk six 3-pointers in a 21-point performance. Outside of that duo, though, BC (14-10, 3-8 Atlantic Coast) largely struggled to manufacture points. With starting guard Taylor Ortlepp out with an ankle injury, the Eagles leaned on the tandem for almost three-quarters of the team’s total scoring output. The rest of BC went just 7-of-35 from the field, hitting at a 20-percent clip that was far from enough to keep up with a balanced Syracuse (18-5, 7-3) attack—the Orange had nine players with at least five points.

The first quarter started off sloppy for both teams, with the Orange taking an early 11-7 lead nearly four minutes into the game. The trend of the first quarter, and of the entire first half, was the 3-point shooting of Syracuse. The Orange made nearly 60 percent of its shots from deep in the half, and it allowed them to take a big lead into the first intermission. Guy did her best to keep the Eagles in the game, however, completely dominating the offensive side of the ball. She also played a large role on the glass, where BC had a strong advantage in the quarter, winning the rebound battle,13-6.

But the main reason that the Eagles fell behind was their inability to make shots. The team converted just 29 percent from the field and missed lots of open layups off great passing to try and break down the difficult Syracuse zone defense. The quarter ended with BC down by nine, and things only went down from there.

The second quarter saw more of the same in terms of the Orange’s shooting. Miranda Drummond was the standout player for Cuse, making six of her seven 3-point attempts and totaling 18 points in just 12 minutes of game time. Perhaps the most amazing part of her performance was that she barely needed to dribble the ball to score. Drummond was very effective at finding space on the perimeter, knocking down her open looks with ease.

Guy, who is from the Syracuse area, did her best to keep the Eagles in the game, though, nearly notching a double-double in the first half alone. She scored 17 points on just over 50 percent shooting, grabbing nine rebounds and playing all but one minute. Despite her great play, the inability to maintain the ball for very long harmed the team mightily. BC coughed up the rock 10 times, compared to Syracuse’s seven, leading to 11 points off turnovers for the Orange, while the Eagles were able to make nine of their own. Going into the half, BC appeared to figure out how to dissect the Orange’s zone, playing cleaner than they had early on in the game, but the damage had been done and the Eagles went into halftime down by 19.

The third quarter was by far the best of the game for BC, which was only outscored by one point, 20-19. Still, the Eagles were plagued by poor execution, with the team’s first possession of the quarter resulting in Taylor Soule diving on the floor after a poor pass to retrieve the loose ball and use a timeout. The frame was also particularly aggressive, as BC picked up two fouls in the first three minutes, and there were six personal fouls in the first five minutes. That physicality pushed the pace even more, causing the Orange to run after inbounding the ball anytime BC scored. This high tempo highlighted the great play of Syracuse junior guard Tiana Mangakahia, who piled up 12 assists on the day. She commanded the offense for Syracuse and even made a few key buckets inside when she was pressured off the perimeter.

This was just not the Eagles’ day, as they sleepwalked through the fourth quarter, turning the ball over on two of the first three possessions of the frame. Meanwhile, Syracuse kept the pressure high with its zone defense and continued to push the fast break at any available opportunity. Eventually, the Orange, who had 10 players play 10-plus minutes, coasted to a 27-point victory and finished two points shy of a season-high for points scored.

The most shocking stat of the night was the difference in bench production for the Eagles versus that of the Orange. BC’s bench did not manage to score a single point, whereas Syracuse’s racked up 43 points. This is not unusual, seeing as BC is a young team with a lot of freshmen, and first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee regularly only goes three or four players deep into the reserves, but the disparity shows what the upper echelon of ACC teams looks like.

It was clear from the fourth minute on that the Eagles didn’t have the players to run with Syracuse, but ultimately the blowout loss was a stark reminder that, early-season success aside, BC often doesn’t have the depth to keep up with the nation’s best conference.

Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / For The Heights

February 12, 2019