Sports, Women's Basketball, Basketball

BC Continues Losing Skid With Loss to No. 3 NC State

With six minutes to go in Boston College women’s basketball’s game against No. 3 NC State on Sunday, the Eagles were in familiar territory. Just three weeks ago, BC led the Wolfpack by 16 points with six minutes to play in the game. From there, NC State went on a tear, outscoring the Eagles by over 20 points to take home a six-point win.

Nearly the same was true on Sunday, but in reverse, as BC found itself down by as much as 19 in the final quarter. With the hope of past results in the backs of their minds, the Eagles turned up the pressure, slowly but surely cutting the Wolfpack lead down to as low as 12. But unfortunately for BC, history did not repeat itself, and 12 points was as small as the deficit got for the remainder of the game. 

With the 76-57 loss, the Eagles extended their losing streak to an abysmal four-game skid, and BC (4-4, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) now sits at the bottom of the standings. NC State (10-0, 5-0), on the other hand, sits firmly atop the conference rankings, and a second win over BC in three weeks cushioned the Wolfpack’s spot even more. 

Early in the game, an unfamiliar face took the floor for BC. Just weeks ago, Ally VanTimmeren was a senior at Jenison High School in Allendale, Mich. With the status of winter high school sports in Michigan up in the air, the forward opted to graduate ahead of schedule and enroll at BC one semester early. 

VanTimmeran took the floor in her first collegiate game on Sunday—against the No. 3 team in the nation no less—just four minutes into the contest. In 16 minutes off the bench, VanTimmeran notched 10 points—including a 3-pointer for the first points of her career—and six rebounds. 

The double-digit loss was not without bright spots for the Eagles. In addition to VanTimmeran’s standout collegiate debut, Cameron Swartz and Taylor Soule each notched a team-high 14 points, and for much of the first half, the Eagles stayed neck and neck with the Wolfpack. 

“We played hard and we played with our hearts for the majority of the game,” said BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee after the game. “I just don’t think we always played smart out there, especially when we’re playing the number three team in the country. I thought NC State played physical, played hard, and they also played smart.”

Swartz showed off her athleticism all game long, repeatedly putting away acrobatic baskets in the paint. Last year, Swartz was a weapon on the perimeter, but during the 2020-21 campaign, she has expanded her arsenal to attack the basket as well, and it has paid off.

The magnitude of the loss boils down to the Eagles’ continued shooting woes, particularly from long range. After opening the game with 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point range, the Eagles fell into a shooting drought. BC entered the game ranked No. 159 in the nation in 3-point percentage, shooting an average clip of 31.21 percent from beyond the arc. Against NC State, BC hit just 27.3 percent of its 3-pointers. 

NC State also owes credit for its dominance to its loaded lineup, including Elissa Cunane, who has averaged nearly a double-double on the season. Cunane racked up a game-high 24 points against BC. Combined with Cunane’s total, teammates Raina Perez (16), Jakia Brown-Turner (13), and Jada Boyd (10) outscored BC’s entire lineup. 

A bright spot for the Eagles was that they made a complete turnaround in foul territory from the last time they took on NC State. In the Dec. 13 matchup, BC allowed NC State 34 free throws and took only eight of its own. For a team averaging 85 percent shooting from the free-throw line—good for first in the nation—foul shots are an easy way for BC to put pressure on top-ranked teams such as NC State. On Sunday, BC took 18 foul shots and limited NC State to 17, but even that improvement wasn’t enough to keep the Eagles in it. 

BC’s winless start to the ACC slate is a marked departure from a season ago, when the Eagles opened conference play 3-2 through the first five games. But after the postponement of what was supposed to be a New Year’s Eve matchup with Pittsburgh, the Eagles have faced possibly their toughest ACC stretch in recent memory. Even Duke, who the Eagles were slated to play on Jan. 10, cancelled its season entirely

In a season where schedules are written in pencil, the Eagles have no way of knowing how many more chances they’ll get to prove they’re up to snuff in one of the nation’s top basketball conferences. 

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

January 3, 2021