Sports, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Battle Back From First Quarter Deficit to Defeat Pitt

As the clock wound down on the first quarter, Boston College women’s basketball was down by four against Pitt. The Eagles had been coming off a three-game win streak and a program-best eighth ACC win in their victory over UNC, so expectations were reasonably high. And with less than a minute remaining, Cameron Swartz came off the bench to secure the Eagles’ first three of the night, putting them within one point of the Panthers at the end of the first.

The Eagles (16-10, 9-6 Atlantic Coast) had struggled to connect plays in the first quarter leading up to Swartz’s crucial 3-pointer. While it had won the opening tip-off against Pitt (4-22, 1-14), BC failed to capitalize on its early possession and ensuing chances, eventually giving up the ball to the attacking Panthers. But despite their early deficit against Pitt, the Eagles would go on to pull out the 70-59 victory over their ACC opponents, extending their win streak to four games.

After quickly getting on the board, Pitt fought to keep its lead over the Eagles, matching BC point for point, and eventually began to extend its lead beyond a single possession. But Swartz’s 3-pointer to close the first quarter, alongside a second 3-pointer and a good free throw attempt to begin the second quarter, put BC safely in the lead over the Panthers. 

Aside from Swartz’s two quick tallies, the second quarter began slowly, both teams’ defenses working in overdrive to prevent scoring chances. Pitt briefly dominated the Eagles in the paint, picking up defensive rebounds that took away crucial second or third chances for BC to get ahead. The Panthers picked up two extra points from free throw opportunities, putting themselves within one of the Eagles, but from then on, it was BC’s game. 

Starting at just under seven minutes remaining in the quarter, the Eagles began what would become a 9-1 run against the Panthers, putting themselves up 24-15 following a Makayla Dickens 3-pointer. Pitt would get four points back against BC with a jumper and a layup, but Georgia Pineau collected back-to-back free throw attempts, adding three extra points to the Eagles’ score. 

Although she only scored two points in the second quarter, senior Emma Guy made an incredible impact on the Eagles’ performance. Guy consistently fought for possession in the defensive zone, using aggressive strategies to take away Pitt’s chances and allowing BC to stay ahead of its opponents.

The Eagles returned from halftime refreshed, up by six points, and ready to secure their fourth-straight win. Early in the frame, Dickens fought through traffic in the paint, netting a good layup to put BC up 31-21 on the Panthers. As the quarter continued to progress, it was clear that the Eagles had the offensive advantage over Pitt, shooting 64 percent from the field. Soule specifically dominated Pitt, forcing turnovers in possession on her way to a 10-point quarter. BC kept the Panthers to only 12 points over the course of the third, ending the quarter up 50-33.

After being relatively quiet during the majority of the game, Marnelle Garraud opened the fourth quarter strong, hitting a 3-pointer just over a minute in to extend the Eagles’ lead over Pitt to 18 points. 

With BC securely in the lead over the Panthers, it looked as though the game was over. For each point scored by the Panthers, the Eagles were right there to match them and keep their lead intact. And yet, with four minutes remaining in the game, the Panthers looked as if they were making a last-ditch effort to win the game. Pitt put on a valiant effort, going on a 14-5 run to close out the game. But the Panthers were unable to surpass the Eagles’ pre-existing lead, allowing BC to pull out the 70-59 win.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee following the victory. “We’ll always take an ugly win that we can learn from over a good loss.”

Even though it was crucial bench players, such as Swartz and Pineau, that got BC going in the night’s game, it was Soule who continued her reputation of delivering the Eagles with grand victories. In playing over half the game, Soule collected her 18th game scoring double-digit points and her ninth double-double of the season, with 22 points and 12 rebounds against the Panthers. 

“What we did do well was controlling the boards,” said Bernabei-McNamee regarding Soule’s performance. “That was a big part of [Soule] being dominating again. ”

Featured Image by Liv Genovese / For the Heights

February 21, 2020