Having gone two weeks without playing a game, Boston College women’s basketball got out to a sleepy start in the first round National Invitation Tournament.
Despite finding themselves in an eight-point hole late in the first quarter, the Eagles roared back with a 22–2 run to clinch a 69–44 victory over Maine.
The victory marks BC’s (20–11, 10–8 Atlantic Coast) first postseason win since the 2010–11 season and the first during head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee’s tenure.
“I chalked it up to us being a little bit rusty—like that jolt of playing again,” Bernabei-McNamee said after the game. “That’s a long time. It’s been a while—it was literally two Thursdays ago that we’ve played.”
Maine (20–12, 15–3 America East) jumped out to an 18–10 lead early despite missing its first five shots. The Black Bears compensated for their shooting struggles by dominating the offensive glass, picking up five offensive rebounds in the opening eight minutes.
“It was a little wake up call,” Taylor Soule said. “Regardless of who the team is, you never want, in the first quarter, for them to be up in the boards, especially when we have a height advantage.”
BC’s offense appeared unaffected by the time off. The Eagles found early success in attacking the paint, with eight of their first 10 points coming near the rim. And with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter, BC tightened up its defense.
“We got into a little bit of a full-court press, which really sparked the energy and kind of got that going,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “And then we went to a half-court zone that took away those backdoors that they were getting [in] the first quarter.”
BC forced Maine into a number of costly turnovers and contested shots, resulting in easy looks on the other end. The Black Bears went scoreless for over five minutes, as the Eagles claimed their first lead via a 10–0 run.
Even after Maine scored its first points of the second quarter over two minutes in, BC had the Black Bears on the ropes and went on another 12–0 run. With its lead up to 12 points, BC never looked back.
Maine trimmed its deficit down to eight points later in the third quarter, but BC’s tenacious defense made it difficult for the Black Bears to sustain their comeback attempt, allowing the Eagles to coast to a 25-point victory.
Though BC shot 50 percent from the field, its defense was crucial in its win. BC smothered Maine’s shooters and racked up six blocks, three of which came from freshman center Maria Gakdeng. In addition to holding Maine to 28.6 percent shooting, the Eagles were disciplined on defense, fouling the Black Bears five times.
Soule led the scoring for BC with 21 points, making up for a quiet night for Cameron Swartz, who only connected on two of her eight field goal attempts. BC’s bench provided 22 points.
Despite her team’s disappointment about missing the NCAA Tournament, Bernabei-McNamee praised the Eagles’ ability to move forward.
“We still think we did enough to get [to the NCAA Tournament] and then we didn’t get it—it could have been easy for these players, especially our older players to just be down in the dumps … but I think I got the exact opposite,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “It’s been an emotional week, but I don’t think our team has been this together since the start of the season.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff