Women's Basketball, Basketball, Sports

Eagles Dip Below .500 For First Time With Loss to No. 2 Louisville

Just a few short weeks ago, Ally VanTimmeren was a high schooler. Instead of finishing out her senior year the typical way—though this year is anything but typical—she opted to graduate early and join Boston College women’s basketball as the youngest player in the ACC. 

Her youth seems to be no hindrance to her performance, however, as the freshman put up 17 points on Thursday night—tied with Cameron Swartz for a team high—against Louisville, the No. 2 team in the country. 

Despite VanTimmeren’s best efforts, Louisville is No. 2 in the nation for a reason, and the Eagles fell on the road 89-70. BC (5-6, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) has now fallen below .500 overall for the first time this season, while Louisville (11-0, 4-0) has maintained its perfect record. 

Despite the loss, BC’s 70 points are tied for the Eagles’ most against an ACC opponent this season. Ultimately, BC’s shooting was efficient on offense, with shooting percentages miles ahead of the Eagles’ previous game, a 20-point loss to Wake Forest

The most marked improvement in BC’s shooting prowess was roughly a 40 percent clip from 3-point range. Against Wake Forest, BC only hit half of that mark, but against a much stronger defensive team in Louisville, the Eagles came alive from the perimeter. 

VanTimmeren was a major factor in the Eagles’ efficiency on Thursday. In the first half alone, she tallied 12 points to lead all scorers on 5-of-7 shooting from the field including two 3-pointers. 

Even so, Louisville played a textbook first quarter, which put the Cardinals ahead for good right out of the gates. Marnelle Garraud opened the night’s scoring with a quick layup, but Louisville responded seconds later with a 10-0 run and never looked back. The Cardinals led 26-16 at the first break after shooting 56 percent from the field. 

By halftime, Louisville had expanded its lead to 14 at 42-28 thanks in large part to Dana Evans and Olivia Cochran. Evans, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, finished the night with a game-high 24 points and notched two rebounds. Cochran logged 18 points and seven rebounds. All together, the Cardinals had five players in double digits and eight players on the board. 

Eight players also scored for BC, though the Eagles’ roster only has nine names on it, while Louisville’s has 11. BC’s depth despite its small roster size has been significant for the Eagles all season, as rotation players have often had just as much impact as perennial stars. 

Taylor Soule, for example, was relatively quiet on the scoring front on Thursday, recording just nine points and three rebounds despite earning the starting spot and playing 28 minutes. VanTimmeren, on the other hand, came off the bench for 17 points, and Jaelyn Batts, who has taken on an increased role this season, recorded six points off the bench. 

After halftime, both teams emerged from the locker rooms firing on all cylinders. The Eagles made their first six field goal attempts off the bat to cut Louisville’s lead to eight early on in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Makayla Dickens. 

Garraud, who leads the ACC in steals, made some key defensive plays early on in the third quarter as well to aid in the Eagles’ comeback bid.

As much effort as BC put in, Louisville gave the same amount right back. The two teams combined for 54 points in the third quarter alone, 26 of which belonged to Louisville. BC continued to hang around, preventing a blowout for the Cardinals, at least for the moment. 

But the fourth quarter told a very different story. Instead of the evenly matched third period they had just witnessed, the smattering of spectators inside of the KFC Yum! Center watched as the home team dismantled BC’s defense and locked down the vast majority of BC’s driving lanes on the inside. Louisville outscored BC 21-14 in the final 10 minutes of the game. 

The Eagles have faced arguably the toughest slate in the conference over the last six games, taking on three different ranked opponents—including facing NC State twice. Two of those three opponents were among the top five in the country. BC’s upcoming schedule is reason to be hopeful, but the Eagles have plenty of catching up to do in the conference. 

Featured Image by Elise Amendola / AP Photo

January 15, 2021