Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Rally, Defeat Duke 67–51 On The Road

For about 25 minutes of Boston College women’s basketball’s matchup against Duke, the game appeared eerily reminiscent of BC’s recent loss to Florida State. Facing another fringe tournament team on the road, BC led comfortably for much of the game. But with six and a half minutes left to play in the third quarter, Duke had cut the Eagles’ lead down to five and was on the verge of taking over, just as the Seminoles had done a week ago. 

This time, however, BC punched back with a decisive 17–2 run that propelled the Eagles to a 67–51 victory. 

“Fourth quarter’s got to be ours,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said in her postgame press conference. “We’ve got to own the fourth quarter. So, even when they made that run, I think that we felt like we can gather ourselves, bring ourselves back together, and really do what got us there.”

Though the Blue Devils (16–11, 7–10 Atlantic Coast) needed just over two minutes to jump out to a 6–2 lead, BC quickly recovered. The Eagles (18–10, 9–8) capitalized on numerous Duke turnovers and went into the second quarter up nine points, having held the Blue Devils scoreless over the quarter’s final two minutes.

Led by Maria Gakdeng, BC’s defense limited Duke to just 26.7 percent shooting in the opening 10 minutes. 

After recording her second block of the game 1:15 into the second quarter, the freshman center etched her name into the BC record books by setting the program’s single-season block record.

“It was really exhilarating,” Gakdeng said. “I’m just really excited that I was able to get to this point, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coaches and my teammates.”

With everything clicking for the Eagles, BC was looking to put the Blue Devils away early. Like BC though, Duke was clinging to tournament hopes and would not go down easily.

The Eagles entered the locker room at halftime up by eight, needing 20 more minutes to bolster their tournament résumé.

Duke started the second half with the urgency necessary for a comeback, and with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter, BC’s lead was down to five. 

But BC held off the Blue Devils’ surge, and its shooters caught fire. A 3-point barrage led by Cameron Swartz and Makayla Dickens pushed BC’s lead all the way up to 15 points as the Eagles headed into the fourth quarter ahead 50–35.  

Duke launched another 7–0 run in the fourth quarter. But just as they had all game, the Eagles responded—this time with a game-sealing run. 

“The players that were out on the floor, the players that were on the bench, they stuck together, and they really had a high level of confidence that they were playing with,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I think that’s pretty indicative of who we need to become if we’re going to take our game on the road.”

Swartz led the scoring for BC, recording her fifth straight 20-plus point game, and finished the night with 21 points. Gakdeng filled up the stat sheet as well, with six blocks and eight rebounds to accompany her 16 points. Dickens was critical off the bench, knocking down two 3-pointers on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. 

With its final regular season game set for Feb. 27 against Syracuse, BC ranks seventh in the ACC and is one of ESPN’s “Last Four In” the NCAA Tournament. 

“I think [Taylor Soule] said it best,” Dickens said. “This year, we have to go dancing. Especially for the five seniors that we have. We want to go out with a bang and to be able to take BC to the tournament [for the first time] since 2006.”

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

February 25, 2022
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