Sports, Women's Basketball

Eagles Drop Fourth Straight, Fall to No. 6 Notre Dame in Blowout

For the middle two quarters of Boston College women’s basketball’s 29-point loss to then-No. 1 Notre Dame on the road earlier this season, the Eagles were outscored by just four points, fighting to hang with the Irish before fading the stretch.

On Wednesday night at Conte Forum, the No. 6 Irish were determined to not let that happen again. After holding the Eagles to just 22 points in the first half—the lowest total for the team since Jan. 13—Notre Dame took a healthy lead into the break before erupting in the third quarter. The Irish went on a remarkable 23-0 run in just four minutes of game time, piling it on before eventually waltzing out of Massachusetts with a convincing 97-47 win.

The 30-point margin could’ve been much worse for BC (14-11, 3-9 Atlantic Coast), as Notre Dame (23-3, 10-2) took its foot off the gas for the final 10 minutes. It extended the Eagles’ losing streak to four, and the last two defeats haven’t been particularly close—BC suffered a tough 27-point loss to No. 16 Syracuse just a few days prior.

The game got off to a rocky start for the Eagles. Notre Dame set the pace, starting with its tip-off win, then promptly scored eight unanswered points in the first 1:21 of the quarter. Offensively, the Irish got past the Eagles’ defense relatively easily and got inside the paint far too many times for head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee’s liking. Notre Dame’s quick and aggressive play leveraged its scoring ability. BC answered the early spurt with back-to-back layups from Taylor Soule and Georgia Pineau, but the Irish followed with a 10-0 run and held their opponents to just 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) from the field in the first quarter.

Defensively, Notre Dame was able to keep tight pressure on the Eagles throughout the entire first half. This forced BC to take too many shots from far outside the paint—the team went 1-of-13 from distance in the opening 20 minutes. The Eagles rushed their field goal attempts, unable to create space to take high percentage shots. Their offense appeared disoriented, with Makayla Dickens—a consistent contributor—going just 1-of-6 from the field in the half.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s offense was humming, helped in part by multiple personal fouls on the Eagles. They gave the Irish a number of opportunities at the charity stripe, committing 13 fouls, effectively digging a hole for themselves as early as the first quarter. Notre Dame went 13-of-19 in the opening half and the abundance of personals—including three apiece on Soule and Pineau—put BC in foul trouble early.

At halftime, BC was down by 29 points and was really struggling to establish any sort of offensive rhythm. Dickens led the Eagles with a total of six points, but the team’s second-leading scorer, Sydney Lowery, only managed four points, despite taking eight shots. The Eagles never held a lead in the first half, briefly closing its deficit to single digits near the end of the first quarter before another 10-0 run blew the game open.

The Eagles played really carelessly and uninspired on the defensive end of the court. They were constantly allowing Notre Dame to get inside the paint and create high-percentage shots—the Irish had 28 points in the paint in the first half alone. It was an onslaught of constant scoring for Notre Dame, befitting of its high ranking.

In the second half, any chance to mount a comeback vanished as BC struggled even more. Any halftime adjustments from Bernabei-McNamee were for naught, with Notre Dame scoring seven straight points at the break. Lowery had a bucket and a free throw while Pineau followed with a layup in the first three minutes, but the latter would mark the start of a six-minute scoreless stretch. The Eagles had a hard time scoring and getting second chances on offense.

The Irish didn’t. Notre Dame rattled off 23 straight points, building a 56-point lead with relative ease. Making a home for themselves inside, the Irish shot almost 80 percent from the field in the quarter alone, hitting just two 3-pointers amid a 37-point frame. It was a remarkable effort—a blur of blue that just surged up and down the court.

The Eagles softened the blow a bit toward the end of regulation, outscoring Notre Dame by an 18-9 margin in the final quarter—the Irish hit just 1-of-11 from the field in the closing minutes—but the result was never in doubt. BC had no answer for Notre Dame’s talent, with Arike Ogunbowale (23 points, seven assists), Brianna Turner (19 points), Jessica Shephard (16 points, 12 rebounds), and Jackie Young (15 points, 10 rebounds) all enjoying impressive nights.

At the end of the day, BC is in the beginning of a rebuild and far from competing with the likes of Notre Dame and Syracuse. While it may be disappointing for Eagles fans that Bernabei-McNamee’s side wasn’t able to keep up at times in a similar fashion to the meeting earlier this year, the fact remains that her team is starting three freshmen—two of which combined to go 1-of-19 from the floor—and it’ll take more than one successful run of non-conference games to come close to upsetting an ACC giant like the Irish.

Featured Image by Tori Cooper / For The Heights

February 14, 2019