Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Top No. 19 Notre Dame in Comeback Victory

Entering Thursday night’s matchup against No. 19 Notre Dame, the odds were not in Boston College women’s basketball’s favor. BC hadn’t won a home game against a ranked opponent since beating then-No. 15 Duke on Jan. 22, 2015. Not to mention, BC was just 8–25 against Notre Dame all time.  

The Eagles trailed by 14 with just 13 minutes to play, and it seemed as though the odds would win. But BC (13–5, 4–3 Atlantic Coast) rallied to down the Irish (13–4, 4–2) in a 73–71 comeback win. 

After BC got out to a quick 8–0 start, Notre Dame logged 11 unanswered points. The Eagles wouldn’t regain their lead for another 26 minutes.

BC entered the second quarter down 22–17, and after a quarter of back-and-forth play with the Irish, the Eagles trailed 35–27 going into halftime.

As the Eagles stepped out of the locker room after halftime, it seemed as though a fire was lit underneath them, and the tide of the game began to turn. Senior forward Taylor Soule emerged with tenacity in the paint, grabbing offensive rebounds and turning them into points. She finished the game with 10 rebounds and 15 points. 

“I think the difference between the first half and the second half—and even this game and other close games that we’ve been in—is just like the belief and the total team desire to win and prove how great a team we are,” Soule said after the game. “We just had to come out and honestly just play our hearts out, and that’s what we did.”

While Soule was dominant in the paint, it was senior Cameron Swartz who led the Eagles’ comeback. She sank three free throws and a 3-pointer in the game’s first two minutes, scoring BC’s first six points. With 28 points and four assists on the night, she carried the Eagles’ scoring to fuel BC’s victory.

“I think tonight that Makayla [Dickens] and I both stepped up, and then we also had Taylor Soule—we had that T-Soule energy down low,” Swartz said after the game. “We had her and Maria [Gakdeng] fighting for all of the floor, giving us those opportunities and everything, and I think just all around, everyone worked well and did their part and just worked in.” 

Dickens accompanied Soule and Swartz at the top of the scoreboard. With 20 points and five assists, Dickens was a major contributor. She scored eight points in the third quarter to give the Eagles a much-needed boost. 

Led by the senior trio, the Eagles finished the third quarter down by one point, 55–54, and their second-half play proved to be cleaner, quicker, and more aggressive than their first two quarters. 

“More than anything, it was just like belief in self,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “At the end of the day, we just talked about being a little bit more gritty. I think in that first half, we caught ourselves watching a little bit, like we watched the game.”

A quick basket from freshman center Maria Gakdeng opened the fourth quarter, shifting the course of the game, and the Eagles found themselves in the lead for the first time since their game-opening run. 

Gakdeng has continued to make an impact week after week since the start of the season and has earned four straight ACC Freshman of the Week awards.

“She was … wide eyed and almost a little overwhelmed, but boy did she snap out of it going into that second half and really started playing a lot stronger and playing to her potential,” Bernabei-McNamee said of Gakdeng. “It’s hard to believe she’s just a freshman. I believe … without a doubt she’ll be one of the best players to ever come out of the Boston College women’s basketball program.” 

Both teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter until Dickens brought the crowd to its feet with only four minutes left when she hit two 3-pointers to tie the game at 67 then again at 70. 

BC sealed the deal when Swartz logged one final basket to put the Eagles on top with only two minutes left to play. Two minutes later, after a number of scoreless possessions, the buzzer rang out, calling an end to BC’s comeback.

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

January 21, 2022