In head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee’s first season with Boston College women’s basketball, the Eagles were able to go 10-2 in the regular season prior to the holiday break. This year, however, Bernabei-McNamee’s squad was unable to match that stellar performance, entering the hiatus with a 7-6 record on the season.
BC (8-6, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) had ended the first half of its season with its second conference game, a loss to No. 9 NC State. Prior to that matchup, the Eagles had won two non-conference games against Delaware State University and rival Boston University. Despite their positive win record, the Eagles went into their game against Pittsburgh (3-11, 0-3) winless in the ACC.
The Eagles and Panthers found themselves evenly matched to begin the game, with the two teams going scoreless in the first two minutes of play. While BC got on the board first, Pittsburgh quickly bounced back, going on a near three-minute 13-0 run, building a 12-point lead over the Eagles. BC came back after its drought with a 5-0 run of its own, capped off by a 3-pointer made by Makayla Dickens. The Eagles’ brief comeback made it a five-point game, as Pitt led 15-10.
There was minimal scoring in the remaining minutes of the quarter. Pitt only collected one more field goal, and BC scored one free throw. The Eagles were down six points heading into the second quarter. Marnelle Garraud, however, had other plans. With one second left on the clock, the sophomore scored a layup to boost the Eagles to a four-point deficit, trailing Pitt 13-17.
BC began the second with a strong performance, Garraud continuing her hot streak with a 3-pointer followed by a layup to put the Eagles behind the Panthers by one. After picking up six more unanswered points, BC was ahead of Pitt, leading the Panthers 24-19 at the six and a half minute mark.
As the period continued, the two jockeyed for dominance, exchanging a couple of points at a time. While BC maintained its lead over the Panthers, the differential between the two teams fluctuated between two and four points before Gabbie Green netted a 3-pointer in the dying seconds of the second quarter.
Dickens shined in the second frame, securing 10 points in this quarter alone. She had been scoring a 9.2 points per game average leading up to this matchup, but she nearly tripled that number by the time the final buzzer rang.
The third quarter began with the Eagles picking up the pace, as they prevented the Panthers from scoring retaliatory points. BC showed off its ability to efficiently transition between defensive and offensive play in this quarter. The Eagles had stolen possession in Pitt’s end, and seeing that Garraud had secured the rebound, Cameron Swartz jetted down the court, ready to score a field goal long before the Panthers were able to catch up.
The Eagles, keeping up their momentum, led Pittsburgh to a 12-2 run over the span of six minutes, securing their largest lead thus far in the game. But the Panthers were quick to fight back, scoring 11 unanswered points in just under three minutes to tie the game.
Pitt and BC grappled for the lead, each taking a turn scoring to keep the score relatively even before the Eagles held a 57-54 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But the Panthers were not ready to quit, with Jahsyni Knight scoring a layup with two seconds on the clock to make it a one-point game.
While the rest of the contest had been largely back-and-forth, especially in the third quarter, the Eagles took control of play in the fourth, smothering any chance of a comeback by the Panthers.
BC entered the frame up 59-57 on Pitt, and while the team was unable to hold that lead for the remainder of the game, it limited the Panthers’ chances, not allowing their opponents get ahead by more than one point. Once Garraud scored a 3-pointer with just under four minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles had secured the lead, staying on top of Pitt as the clock wound down. BC went on a 10-4 run following Garraud’s tally, making the final score 79-70.
With this victory, BC continues its stretch of wins over Pittsburgh, coming out on top in each of their contests over the past three years. On Sunday, the Eagles extended their series lead over the Panthers to 29-18, with a 4-3 series lead since Pitt joined the ACC in 2011.
The Eagles had four players scoring in double digits, including Dickens, who collected 26 points on the night, a career-high in single-game points. In addition to this achievement, Dickens reached the 500-career points mark with the inclusion of the night’s tallies.
With this win behind them, the Eagles now look toward their contest against Notre Dame next Thursday. Boston College has not beaten the Fighting Irish since their 2006 victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Since then, BC and Notre Dame have met 14 times, the Fighting Irish dominating each of their meetings. The Eagles have the next couple of days to prepare for the matchup and will look to come out with their first win against Notre Dame in over a decade.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor