Heading into a New Year’s Day matchup, both Boston College women’s basketball and New Hampshire looked to open 2022 on a positive note. Winless since Nov. 23, New Hampshire entered the game looking to end its drought, and the Eagles vied to remain undefeated in non-conference contests in Conte Forum this season. Ultimately, those trends continued into the new year, and after a close first quarter, BC ran away with its first win of 2022.
Coming off a 30-point loss to Louisville, BC (9–4, 0–2 Atlantic Coast) rallied to take down the Wildcats (3–8, 0–0 America East) by a final score of 88–52.
Both teams entered the game with only about 24 hours of notice of its scheduling, as BC Athletics announced the contest on Friday. The Eagles learned about the game upon returning to Boston after their matchup against Louisville. BC and UNH were scheduled to meet on Dec. 11, but the game was canceled and ruled a no contest.
“We only had a day, but we had a good practice yesterday, and honestly I think last year, with the COVID year, you have to be quick to just flip the switch,” Taylor Soule added.
The first quarter saw both teams suffering from turnover woes. BC also struggled with shooting, but eight offensive rebounds kept the Eagles in the game. Despite UNH leading for a sizable portion of the first quarter, the Eagles rode their advantage in second-chance points to a slim two-point lead going into the second quarter.
“I don’t think our slow start to the game was much of a problem with our time to prepare,” Soule said. “It’s just something that we have to recognize and get better at as the season progresses.”
BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee made some adjustments to get out of what she described as a “funk” in the first quarter, and it showed in the Eagles’ second-quarter play. The Eagles dominated UNH to the tune of a 35–8 romp in the second period. BC also forced 14 turnovers, the majority of which came in the Eagles’ 17–0 run to begin the quarter.
On multiple occasions, the Eagles scored on a fast break or layup and immediately forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, including forcing a rare five-second violation. Wildcats head coach Kelsey Hogan called a timeout after a Jaelyn Batts steal led to yet another free layup for the Eagles. The timeout slowed the Eagles down, and UNH finally got on the board with a pair of free throws from Adara Groman.
Both teams settled down in the third quarter as the Eagles began to coast with their big lead. BC stayed in control and played a clean game, shooting 69 percent from the field and not committing a single turnover throughout the entire quarter, allowing the lead to balloon to 40 points.
Once the lead reached this mark, Bernabei-McNamee began to play mostly rotational players for the rest of the game. While the Eagles only shot 15 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, the damage had already been done in the first three.
Ultimately, the turnover battle told the story of the game. BC’s defense forced 29 turnovers, which prevented the Wildcats’ offense from getting in a rhythm and gave the Eagles easy buckets on offense. Soule capitalized on many of these opportunities, which allowed her to score 15 points off 7-of-7 shooting from the field.
“I was just shooting,” Soule said. “It helps when 90 percent of your shots are layups.”
Featured Image by Nicole Wei / Heights Staff