Sports, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Start Strong With 80-44 Opening Victory Over UNH

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Boston College women’s basketball head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee delivered a very thankful postgame message. Following Wednesday afternoon’s blowout win against New Hampshire—the Eagles dominated to the tune of an 80-44 final score—Bernabei-McNamee was quick to show how thankful she was that her Eagles even got to see the court.

“I’m just thankful that we were able to play,” she said after the game. “Once we got that first tip after it looked like maybe we weren’t going to play, [it] was just relaxing.”

The undersized Wildcats (0-1) proved to be no match for the Eagles (1-0). When all was said and done, the Eagles left Conte Forum with an opening day win against an unfamiliar non-conference opponent. 

Preseason All-ACC forward Taylor Soule finished just where she left off in her sophomore campaign, logging a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Makayla Dickens had a nice day as well. The scrappy shooting guard finished with 14 points and seven assists. As Bernabei-McNamee predicted in her preseason Media Day appearance, Clara Ford also had a big day, notching a career-high 12 points. 

After losing the tip, the Eagles got off to a rocky start. In fact, both teams committed seven turnovers in the first quarter alone. BC’s first bucket of the season came from Ford. With the Eagles missing Emma Guy this season, Ford seemed to show everyone that she was able to carry the load. Despite some early foul trouble, she finished with 12 points and seven boards. 

After a few minutes of back and forth sloppy play, Soule settled in and took over. The 5-foot-11 forward put immense pressure on the middle of the New Hampshire defense, drawing five fouls and racking up four offensive rebounds in the first period of play. Cameron Swartz and Marnelle Garraud added buckets of their own, and BC closed out the first quarter leading 20-10.

The second quarter was a bit tighter. Though Soule continued to score on the inside for the Eagles, New Hampshire’s Héléna Delaruelle and Amanda Torres got things going for the Wildcats. The two UNH guards combined for 12 points in the second quarter. 

New Hampshire’s 2-2-1 full-court press also threw the Eagles’ guards out of rhythm. BC committed a few ugly unforced errors in the second quarter. In the last two minutes, however, a big and-one bucket from Soule as well as layups from Akunna Konkwo and Swartz put the Eagles up 43-27 at the half.

From halftime onward, it was all BC. The Eagles’ half-court zone was stifling, and UNH managed just five points in the third quarter and just 17 in the entire second half. Turnovers, bad shots and poor transition defense from UNH created an insurmountable lead for the Eagles. 

In the final few minutes of the game, Bernabei-McNamee let her youngest players loose on the court. Freshman forward Sydney McQuietor logged her first collegiate minutes after tearing her ACL as a senior in high school, and point guard Kaylah Ivey scored her first points as an Eagle on a drive to hoop. 

Swartz appeared to injure her ankle in the final moments of the game after landing awkwardly on Delaruelle’s foot while coming down from attempting a layup. She was helped off the court by the training staff, but her status for Sunday’s game remains uncertain.

It was a dominant victory for the Eagles, but some early mistakes meant it didn’t always look like a runaway. Even so, BC found a way to create opportunities in other ways. 

“We’re gonna play pretty tough, and even if we’re not scoring or doing things on the stat sheet, getting people in foul trouble and creating opportunities for teammates to hit outside shots is good for the team as a whole,” Soule said after the game. 

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics

November 26, 2020