Entering Sunday afternoon with a perfect record in Conte Forum, Boston College women’s basketball looked to defend its home court once again in its matchup against undefeated No. 25 North Carolina.
For a large majority of the outing, the Eagles did just that, as they held the lead for over 30 minutes. Even so, the Eagles (7–3, 0–1 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t quite hold off a late surge from the Tar Heels (10–0, 1–0), falling 76–73 in their first matchup of ACC play.
The Eagles got off to a sloppy start in the first quarter. After leading scorer Taylor Soule picked up two early fouls to start the game, the Eagles struggled to find baskets without her on the floor, hitting just one out of their first 10 shots. The Tar Heels outshot BC early, leading by as many as eight in the first quarter. But as the Eagles eventually found a rhythm on offense, they cut the deficit to one by the end of the quarter.
“I thought we did a good job of just settling down and running some of our short quick-hitters to get us into our 4-out-1-in action,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “Outside of that, I think our players just hit some nice, big shots, which is credit to them.”
Even with Soule on the bench due to foul trouble, BC’s offense caught fire in the second quarter, outscoring North Carolina 24–16. Marnelle Garraud led the way, scoring 10 of her season-high 20 points during the second-quarter surge. The Eagles went into halftime with a seven-point lead.
The two teams traded punches in the third, but BC continued to control most aspects of the game. The Eagles showed ferocious effort on the glass, outrebounding the Tar Heels in the quarter and going on to win the overall rebound battle 40 to 27. Maria Gakdeng led the team with seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
“Especially for the first three quarters, we showed so much confidence and grit,” Garraud said after the game. “We were fighting with them, being tough, we were killing it on the boards.”
Entering the fourth quarter with a 13-point deficit, the Tar Heels upped their defensive pressure in the half court. The Eagles—who were plagued by turnovers all afternoon—struggled to get into their offense and maintain possession, and at times seemed overwhelmed by North Carolina’s intensity. BC turned the ball over nine times in the final quarter, allowing UNC to claw its way back into the game. With just 10 seconds left, Deja Kelly hit a stepback jumper to give the Tar Heels their first lead since the start of the second quarter.
“I thought we played hard, even in the last quarter,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We just looked tight and spent a quarter playing not to lose instead of being the aggressor and playing to win.”
With eight seconds left and down a point, the Eagles were unable to inbound the ball and committed yet another costly turnover, their fourth in the final two minutes of the game. Forced to foul, BC got the ball back with just seconds on the clock and in need of a 3-pointer. Cameron Swartz had a good look from deep to send the game into overtime, but she just missed it. Despite the last-second miss, Swartz finished the game with 20 points and shot 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line.
“I think that it was a good shot, and one of the better shots that we could’ve got,” Swartz said. “Sometimes, it just doesn’t go in, and it’s unfortunate.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff