The last time Boston College women’s basketball beat a top-five team during the regular season, much of BC’s current squad hadn’t yet been born.
Looking for their first regular season win against a top-five opponent since Jan. 23, 1999, the Eagles hosted No. 5 NC State Thursday night. But after forcing overtime, BC (15–9, 6–7 Atlantic Coast) failed to upset the ACC-leading Wolfpack (22–3, 13–1), and fell to NC State 85–78.
“I was really proud of this team’s fight for 45 minutes,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “I thought they played hard for a good 38 of those minutes.”
Conte Forum was full of energy that had not been seen all year, as 2,547 fans—BC’s highest attendance all season—packed the arena. The Eagles harnessed that energy and exploded with a 13–2 run to start the game.
BC headed into the second quarter with a double-digit lead, 23–11.
But NC State remained resolute and regained its edge in the second quarter. An 8–0 run to end the quarter cut BC’s lead down to three, handing NC State the momentum as it headed to the locker room.
With just under seven minutes left in the third quarter, NC State took its first lead of the game, but BC remained close behind. Fueled by a rowdy student section and a 5–0 run from Taylor Soule in the final two minutes of the frame, the Eagles entered the fourth quarter up by one.
Until the fourth quarter, much of the game had been a series of runs from each side. The fourth quarter was the opposite, however, with the lead constantly flipping back and forth. With 21 seconds left on the game clock, NC State—ahead by three—was on the verge of completing the victory.
A quick Cameron Swartz layup trimmed the lead down to one, with possession returning to NC State. The Eagles fouled as soon as the Wolfpack inbounded the ball, sending Elissa Cunane to the free-throw line, who hit one of her two free throws, setting up the final possession of regulation.
Six seconds remained on the clock, as Marnelle Garraud found a cutting Ally VanTimmeren, who scored a game-tying layup. As the ball rolled through the hoop, the crowd shot to its feet in applause, and for the first time all season, BC was headed to overtime.
“I know the student body isn’t listening to this press conference—I wish they were—but if they were, I’d tell them please come back, because they made all the difference in the world,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
NC State only needed three minutes to quash BC’s hopes for an upset. A 9–0 run for the Wolfpack put the game out of reach for the Eagles, and BC fell for the fourth time in its last five games.
Swartz led the way for BC with 24 points. Soule recorded a double-double, tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds.
As postseason play nears, the next few weeks are critical for the Eagles’ tournament chances, according to Bernabei-McNamee.
“There’s no moral victories, so this isn’t one,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We’re all pretty sick over [the loss], and so the key is just to mourn the loss for tonight. Tomorrow, wake up, get our bodies back together. … We’re at that cusp of the season where we have to take care of business for the rest of February.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff