Women's Basketball, Basketball, Sports

Eagles Open Season With 26-Point Win Over Harvard

When Taylor Soule first arrived in Chestnut Hill in 2018, she was just a promising freshman, finishing with 229 points in her first season. Now, three years later, Soule has made history as an Eagle. Off a fastbreak layup 30 seconds into Boston College women’s basketball’s matchup with Harvard, Soule became the 29th player to join the prestigious 1,000-points club at BC. 

“When it first happened, I didn’t even really know what was going on,” Soule said in BC’s postgame press conference. “I was kind of confused, but I just have to thank my teammates. I mean, if I had the stats to see how many of those baskets were assisted, it would probably be about 90 percent of them, so I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Soule’s career achievement was the first step in an 86–60 victory for the Eagles (1–0). Two separate 9–0 runs propelled BC to topple Harvard (0–1) to open the season.

The Eagles shook off some offseason rust to open the game, as Harvard kept within striking distance for much of the first quarter. The Eagles looked to feed Maria Gakdeng early in her first career start. She scored the first points of the game in the post. Soule, to no surprise, also got going early, getting to the paint for four quick BC points. 

A bit of a cold shooting streak from BC allowed Harvard to take its first and only lead of the game at the three-minute mark. An Annie Stritzel driving layup made it 14–13 in the Crimson’s favor, as the Eagles grappled with Harvard’s aggressive on-ball pressure. Both teams found themselves in a scoring drought for over two minutes at the end of the first quarter, only for Soule to score the game’s next four points, including her 1,000th.

Momentum shifts and runs controlled the game, and the Eagles took command in the second quarter. A layup by Ally VanTimmeren capped off BC’s 9–0 run to take a 31–23 lead. The Eagles’ seven straight field goals in the quarter propelled them to a 44–29 lead at the half. 

“I think whenever we can get momentum, and when great defense leads into our offensive momentum, that’s how you make good runs,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “I wish we could have seen just a little bit more of that today, but when we had it was very nice.”

The Eagles, whose depth raised questions entering the season, played 13 players, 12 of whom scored. Bernabei-McNamee presented many different lineups throughout the game, trying to find which players play best with each other.

One of the biggest takeaways from the game is that the Eagles do, in fact, have depth, and lots of it, with their bench unit going on its own 9–0 run late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach. The Eagles scored 32 points off the bench compared to Harvard’s 15.

“I think that’s indicative of a great team when your bench players are,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I don’t even know that we have bench players. We just have a great team.”

The Eagles’ lead only grew in the second half, with Soule getting to the paint at her own will. Soule finished the game with 19 points without taking a single 3-pointer. VanTimmeren, making her first career start, was +29 when on the floor. 

Harvard never got within fighting distance in the second half, and BC’s transition offense—21 points off of fastbreaks compared to Harvard’s five—and on-ball defense kept the Crimson in check throughout the half. 

The Crimson are a dangerous team from beyond the arc, but the Eagles’ defense forced Harvard to shoot a mere 31 percent from 3-point range off 29 shots. BC, meanwhile, shot 50 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc in what was a solid shooting night all around.

“I was a little disappointed that they fell open for 29 threes because that really wasn’t in our defensive game plan,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “But with that being said, as long as we grow from this game and get better and figure out on film what we can do to communicate a little bit better on their reads and things like that, I think we’ll be fine.”

Featured image courtesy of Mary Schwalm / AP Photo

November 10, 2021