On Sunday, Boston College women’s basketball nearly hit triple digits in a 90-82 overtime win over UMass. All five of the Eagles’ starters hit double digits, including Taylor Soule, who had a game-high 29 points. But just four days later, the Eagles looked like a totally different team. The high-scoring affair was a thing of the past, as BC (3-0) battled Providence (2-2) to a 58-46 win, in which defense was the star more than offense.
“I thought defensively that’s where I was proud of our team … we didn’t get impatient,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “For us to play hard defense and communicate like that through that amount of time is one up for us compared to where we were at this time last year.”
Providence showed late signs of life, edging closer and closer to the previously unreachable Eagles, but BC had momentum and its reliable scorers on its side. Marnelle Garraud nailed a 3-pointer with just over one minute to go in the game, expanding the Eagles’ lead to 12—just icing on the cake at that point.
One of BC’s most reliable scorers, however, had to sit out more than she is used to. Soule went into foul trouble—a rare occasion for last week’s ACC Player of the Week—and only saw the court for 23 minutes. As a result, she only tallied nine points, a stark contrast from the 25.5 points she had averaged over the first two games.
“I think it’s good for our team to have the confidence…when she comes out to be able to function and still play and score and do the right things without her,” Bernabei-McNamee said of Soule. “And I say that, especially on the defensive end because she is such a good defender.”
In addition to Providence slowing down the Eagles’ pace, part of the reason for the low final score was that the Eagles struggled to get their shots to fall from beyond the arc. BC posted 22 points in the paint but only sank 17.1 percent of its attempts from 3-point range. Even so, Cameron Swartz, who is usually strong from distance but struggled on Wednesday, found other ways to score.
“What I like to say is maybe start off ‘inside out’ on offense,” Swartz said. “If I have a wide open three, I’ll take it. But like if I can get in and get a layup and maybe take a few jump shots and warm up and feel that confidence, it’ll help me in my 3-point range.”
Swartz wasn’t just a weapon on offense, though she had a team-high 16 points. She was a force to be reckoned with on defense, which Bernabei-McNamee said majorly contributed to her confidence in other phases of the game. Swartz said after the game that it was the Eagles’ defense that helped to set their offense.
“I can’t wait to show her a highlight film of all the things she did well defensively today,” Bernabei-McNamee said of Swartz. “And I told her that I think that really sparked her because she knew she was making great plays on the defensive end in the right places, and I think your mojo just kind of comes with you as a player when you know you’re doing the right things on both ends of the floor.”
Swartz is a familiar name for Eagles fans, but Clara Ford, a newer BC standout, cemented herself as an integral part of the Eagles’ scheme. Ford recorded five rebounds and 10 points in her third start of the season after playing minimal minutes a season ago. The Eagles’ 38 rebounds—including 17 each on offense and defense—were integral in their success, particularly in scoring second-chance points.
Though the Eagles won the battle of the boards 38-29, Mary Baskerville kept the Friars in contention for the entire game, regardless of the fact that BC never trailed once. In just 20 minutes on the court, Baskerville recorded 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Ford said after the game that going up against Baskerville was somewhat of a preview for tougher ACC opponents the Eagles will face later in the year.
“I think it was definitely a great preparation,” Ford said. “The past few games we’ve played, the post presence wasn’t super strong, so finally getting a chance to play against a good post player, but still have the ability to learn off a win from that was definitely great experience.”
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics