Entering Thursday night’s game, the last time Boston College women’s basketball eclipsed 90 points in ACC play was its 93–75 win over North Carolina on Feb. 16, 2020. The last time the Eagles scored 95 points against an ACC opponent? Until Thursday night, never.
In their highest-scoring ACC matchup ever, the Eagles (10–4, 1–2 Atlantic Coast) shot 58 percent en route to a 95–71 win over Syracuse (8–6, 1–3). BC’s 24-point trouncing marks its first ACC win of the season.
“As a coach, I think this time of year, once you get into January, February, March, it’s all about confidence,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame conference. “We build off of this by keeping our confidence high and really putting in the extra time.”
BC scored 50 points in the paint, as the Eagles efficiently broke Syracuse’s signature press and pounded the interior to find the soft spots in the Orange’s zone defense. Freshman forward Maria Gakdeng dominated down low, scoring a team-high 21 points and tallying nine boards—four of which were offensive—to tie Dontavia Waggoner as the game’s leader in rebounds.
“We emphasized that we can shoot balls, but we can work inside with seals and mismatches, so that was our game plan: working the high-low and then also finding shooters when they doubled down,” senior Marnelle Garraud said after the game. “I think that worked for us today.”
Syracuse’s press pushed the pace of play early, as the two teams battled it out on defense. Five minutes into the game, after an Ally VanTimmeren layup, Garraud stole the ball from Syracuse’s Alaina Rice and passed to Taylor Soule, who sank a 15-foot jumper to put the Eagles up 13–9.
Soule’s foul-line shot propelled BC’s offense to an 8–0 run, and the Eagles’ attack wouldn’t give up its lead for the rest of the game. The Eagles shot at least 60 percent in their first three quarters and finished the game shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Garraud took nine of her 10 shots from three, making five of those nine attempts. She finished the night with 17 points. Garraud said that her confidence from deep—and the Eagles’ shooting success—stemmed from the extra training and team building that has come over Winter Break.
“We don’t have school right now, so it’s really being able to have that time to work on our game, work on our chemistry on and off the court, [that] has been really great for us,” she said. “And also just spending so much time together, I think our confidence with each other has just really excelled, so I think it’s showing on the court.”
Continuing to break down Syracuse’s zone defense, the Eagles stayed consistent in their offensive game plan and increased their lead throughout the first two quarters. With two minutes left in the second quarter, Waggoner made a huge block, showcasing her defensive skill set that shined against BC’s recent matchup with New Hampshire. Clara Ford knocked down an and-1 layup and the ensuing free throw with a minute and a half to go, and BC entered the third quarter up 49–33.
After a 13–2 run brought the Eagles up to a 62–35 lead to start the third quarter, BC began to falter offensively. Syracuse followed with an 11–2 run, and BC saw its biggest struggle of the game, committing six turnovers during the Orange’s dominant stretch.
Though it brought the score down to 64–46, the Orange’s third-quarter effort was too little, too late, and BC’s offensive prowess was unmatched. After finishing the third quarter shooting 67 percent, the Eagles cruised through their last 10 minutes and finished the game ahead 95–71.
Thursday’s game was truly a team win, as nine BC players scored points, and four reached double digits.
“It is special because every player that’s in our program works really hard, and they put in the time, and it doesn’t always translate into playing time for everybody,” Bernabei-McNamee said after the game. “But, it’s great when you have games like this when everyone can get in and really feel like they’re not just that cheering aspect during the game—that the role kind of expands, and they get to get in the game and make a difference.”
Featured Image by Nicole Wei / Heights Staff