Sports, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Grab Second ACC Win of Season With Victory Over Georgia Tech

Coming off back-to-back losses against Pittsburgh and Miami—plus four more losses before a string of postponements—Boston College women’s basketball looked to bounce back against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets entered the game in third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Eagles, on the other hand, sit 10 spots below Georgia Tech in the conference rankings. 

As part of the winter sports season’s Unity Week across the ACC, BC celebrated Black History Month in its final home game of the season. BC warmed up in shirts reading “Black History is Our History” and honored LaVerne Mosley, BC’s first Black member of the women’s basketball program from 1973-77 and Rita Roach, the program’s first Black scholarship athlete, who played from 1982-86. 

Despite the differential in ranking, BC (6-10, 2-10 Atlantic Coast) downed Georgia Tech (13-6, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) for its second ACC win on the year, 49-43. 

“It’s almost like when you have something when you’re playing for something bigger than just yourself,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “It kind of makes those wins a little bit more special.”

The game was a defensive battle, as the final score would indicate. Well over halfway through the first quarter, the game was still tied 2-2. 

Coming out of the first media timeout with three minutes left in the first, Georgia Tech’s Nerea Hermosa hit two free throws to reopen the scoring. The Eagles responded with consecutive scores from Cameron Swartz and Marnelle Garraud. Despite a last-second half-court shot by Yellow Jacket guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, the Eagles held a 9-8 lead after the first quarter of play. 

Georgia Tech scored first out of the break and went on a 4-0 run, which Swartz quickly erased with back-to-back layups. Swartz’s effort sparked an 11-0 run midway through the quarter, thanks in large part to tenacious defense and unselfish play from the Eagles. Leading scorer Taylor Soule capped off the run with an and-one chance. At half time, the Eagles held a 25-20 lead. 

Coming out of the half, the Yellow Jackets quickly cut the five-point deficit and eventually gained the lead just two minutes into the quarter. An 8-0 run for Georgia Tech ensued. A Soule layup broke the almost-four-minute drought for the Eagles. The Eagles quickly got their stride back as Swartz was fouled while making a deep 3-pointer for a four-point play. A late jumper from Kierra Fletcher gave the Yellow Jackets a four-point lead headed into the final quarter of play in Chestnut Hill this season.  

A combination of hustle on the court and intensity coming from the coaching staff and the bench made for a wild fourth quarter for the Eagles. The first points of the quarter came from Jaelyn Batts, who stole the ball and ran down the court for an easy layup. 

Swartz, who led the Eagles with 23 points—nearly half the Eagles’ points—tied the game at 41 with just 4:42 left to play. 

Following a late timeout, Georgia Tech used the entirety of the 20-second shot clock to come up empty, giving the Eagles the ball back with just over one minute to play. With the shot clock winding down, freshman Ally VanTimmeren was fouled while shooting a layup. Although she missed the and-one chance, her efforts nonetheless extended BC’s lead to four. After Georgia Tech’s Lorela Cubaj missed a wide-open triple, Swartz was immediately fouled and made both shots, extending the lead to six with 12 seconds to play and sealing the Eagles’ victory. 

Though BC has struggled this season, the ACC Tournament is on the horizon, and as the saying goes, anything can happen in March. 

“If there’s ever going to be a year where an underdog can maybe shake things up and make something happen, it could be this year,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “So, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics

February 21, 2021