The clock began to tick away its final seconds of the first quarter with Boston College women’s basketball deep in its own zone. Georgia Pineau bounded up to half court with the ball in her hands and let it fly. With a high arc, the shot looked right on target, and the Eagles on the bench rose, hands in the air showing three fingers. The ball gracefully returned to earth, and the Eagles were about to lead by four going into the break.
Then it rattled off the rim and out of bounds, and BC went to the first break barely ahead of Notre Dame.
Pineau’s shot was a small piece of what Eagles fans witnessed in Conte Forum all of Thursday night, as every time it looked as though the Eagles (14-10, 7-6 ACC) were getting close, something went wrong. At least, that’s what it looked like for the first three quarters.
BC earned two more chances to beat the shot clock, though, and those two made all the difference. First, at the end of the third quarter, the Eagles strung together two passes from coast to coast, and Cameron Swartz sank a three as the clock hit zero. But the crown jewel of the night was Emma Guy’s game-winning layup as BC battled a 1.2-second clock and a one-point deficit.
But the game wasn’t always so glorious for BC.
The Eagles rattled off shots quarter after quarter but couldn’t seem to connect for most of the night. BC ended up shooting just over 31 percent from the field and a dismal 9.1 percent from distance in their 56-55 win over Notre Dame (10-15, 5-8). But something clicked for the Eagles with 10 minutes to play, and they manufactured a miraculous comeback victory over the team from South Bend.
After trailing for the entirety of the first quarter, the Fighting Irish came out of the break a new team and were suddenly firing on all cylinders. Both teams struggled to get their shots to fall in the first quarter, but Notre Dame came alive in the second with 20 points from field goals, six points of which came on 66 percent shooting from behind the arc. Adding the Irish’s 6-for-6 shooting from the charity stripe, Notre Dame more than doubled BC’s 10 points in the quarter to take a commanding 11-point lead at halftime.
Though Notre Dame came alive offensively in the second quarter, both the Irish and the Eagles continued to struggle with shooting for most of the night. By the end of the third period, Taylor Soule had the vast majority of the Eagles’ points, and she didn’t have much help. Marnelle Garraud and Makayla Dickens, two of BC’s top scorers this season, combined for just five points on the night while Soule had 20. Pineau followed behind her with 13.
Soule had quite a game on the other side of the stat sheet as well, totaling 10 rebounds and five steals. Thanks to her efforts and those of Dickens and Guy, who each had nine, the Eagles won the battle of the boards 52-40 to keep themselves in the game even when they trailed by double digits.
“[The rebounding] speaks to the fact that they didn’t give up,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “When you shoot that poorly from the floor, sometimes you stop trying. … And I’m really proud that this team didn’t let each other do that.”
After trailing by as much as 13 in the second quarter, BC clawed its way back. The Eagles had another chance to beat the shot clock at the end of the third quarter. Swartz’s 3-point shot fell just as the backboard turned red, and the Eagles trailed by just six heading into the break—their smallest deficit since the last five minutes of the second quarter—and had a comeback win in their sights.
Coming out of the break with momentum on the Eagles’ side, Garraud nailed another three, and the Eagles were within three right away. Pineau’s fastbreak layup brought BC within one point, and it was back to a nailbiter for the Eagles.
With under eight minutes left, Guy went to the line twice in a row and made half of her shots to take a one-point lead. Dickens’ layup expanded the lead, and all of a sudden it looked like a very different game. Conte Forum was electric, and the Eagles’ bench players were on their feet more than they were in their seats.
Second-chance points in the paint— particularly as a result of Guy’s rebounds and plenty of layups from below the basket— kept the Eagles in the game in the final minutes.
The Eagles took their final one-point lead with 18 seconds left as Pineau hit a clutch jumper from just behind the free throw line. But Notre Dame was quick to counter, and after BC nearly ran out the clock, Destinee Walker hit a layup to regain the lead with a second on the clock.
But Guy was not quick to give up. The Eagles inbounded it to Guy on a beautiful pass from Pineau, and all Guy had to do was seal the deal. Her teammates swarmed her, and Guy left the court a hero as BC swept the season series against Notre Dame for the first time ever.
“I don’t know how often we’ve been down like that in the first half against an ACC team and come back to win it,” said Bernabei-McNamee. “So I think that’s attributed to how hard each of the players played, and it starts from everybody on our bench to our starting five. Just play hard.”
The bench played an integral role in keeping the team’s spirits up, as McNamee said after the game. Not a single player pouted on the bench, and Bernabei-McNamee never doubted for a second that her team would come out on top.
“We want to be fighters,” she said. “We want to come out and say we’re gonna give everything we have and leave everything on the floor, and I believe we did that today.”
Featured Image by Kait Devir / Heights Staff