Sports, Basketball, Women's Basketball

First-Quarter Surge Lifts Orange Over BC

As Boston College students finished up their finals, BC women’s basketball faced perhaps its toughest test of the week. But it wasn’t in the classroom. The Eagles took on No. 18 Syracuse to finish out their semester on their home court, but the Eagles couldn’t quite make the grade. 

The Orange schooled BC in the first quarter, and the Eagles spent the rest of the game trying to score some makeup points to no avail. Despite BC’s best efforts, the Eagles (4-3, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) will head into Christmas break on a three-game losing streak after an 83-70 loss to the Orange (5-1, 2-1). 

“For three quarters of that game we played pretty well,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “I think that first quarter really killed us, and we just looked sleepy.”

The first quarter was about as lopsided in Syrcause’s favor as it could have been. Even without Tiana Mangakahia, the fastest player to reach 1,000 career points in Syracuse program history, the Orange led 31-15 after the first 10 minutes of play. BC spent the rest of the game playing catchup, cutting the lead to only as low as eight points at any point in the contest. 

Even so, the Eagles have plenty of lessons to learn from the loss. The Orange employed a full-court press all game long, putting the Eagles under constant stress in the backcourt, but BC only gave up 10 total turnovers all game long. Plus, after last week’s loss to NC State which was riddled with players in foul trouble, the Eagles only gave up 17 personal fouls. 

“I think the building blocks on this is that they’ve got to play just a little bit tougher and a little bit smarter and, you know, use this Christmas and holiday break to get up some shots on their own,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

The biggest struggle for the Eagles was getting their shots to fall. While Syracuse managed 54.4 percent shooting from the field, BC only hit 30.1 percent of its shots. Even more dismal was the Eagles’ percentage from beyond the arc, a mere 23.8 percent from 3-point range. 

“I’m not sure why we looked a little disheveled … certainly, we got off 73 shots in that game,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I mean, you look at the stat sheet: I feel like it looks like we should have won the game. Yet, we just didn’t make shots. We were great from the free-throw line, so surely we can make shots.”

Three different Eagles hit double-digit scoring, but even Taylor Soule’s 20 points, Clara Ford’s 19, and Cameron Swartz’s 15 weren’t enough to keep the Eagles in it. 

Syracuse’s Kamilla Cardoso was the biggest—literally and figuratively—factor in the point differential. 6-foot-7 Cardoso easily overwhelmed the Eagles’ much smaller contingent and recorded 24 points and seven rebounds. 

It wasn’t just Cardoso, however, who towered over the Eagles. Syracuse’s starting five averaged around six feet tall, while BC’s averaged just under 5-foot-10. Even so, Syracuse only narrowly edged BC in the battle of the boards, 43-35.

“They made the most of each of their possessions, and they really played that inside game well,” Bernabei-McNamee said of the Orange. “And they took advantage of the fact that we are a little smaller. … I thought our small lineup played gritty—it’s just, they made us pay.”

After three straight losses to open their conference slate, the Eagles head into an 11-day break. Bernabei-McNamee said that she and her team plan to use the time to rest and regroup, but also to dissect what has gone wrong in the early games of the season. 

“I think we’re still going to do wonderful things in the ACC, and these are all the building blocks that we need to just learn and grow from to be the team that we’re going to end up being at the end of the year,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor

December 20, 2020

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