Boston College women’s basketball head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, along with players Taylor Soule, Cameron Swartz, and Marnelle Garraud, tumbled into their postgame press conference on Monday night with the youthful excitement of a CYO team that had just won a championship trophy.
Soule had just set her career scoring record, and Swartz had hit double digits, and the two jostled excitedly for seats on either side of their coach after racing into the press conference. The players threw themselves into their seats as if the only thing on their minds was beating Garraud there and being the first to the complementary blue Powerade sitting on the table.
Their excitement was justifiable, as BC (21–11, 11–8 Atlantic Coast) had just taken down Quinnipiac in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. This year marks BC’s first appearance in the tournament in over a decade, and the Eagles advanced to the third round with a 94–68 win over the Bobcats (21–12, 14–7 Metro Athletic).
Before the press conference had even started, Swartz took the microphone.
“We won,” she said while her coach and teammates laughed by her side.
Soule controlled the game all night, leading the Eagles offensively with 33 points on 77.8 percent shooting. She added to her double-double with 16 rebounds—the most on the team—and came away with three assists and three steals.
“I’m really happy that we could get a team win,” Soule said. “I have teammates that hype me up and give me energy, … so shoutout to them. But it’s always nice to have a nice game at home.”
By the end of the first quarter, BC had established a solid lead that it maintained throughout the game. The Eagles led by one or two scores for most of the quarter, due in part to holding Quinnipiac to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field.
BC jumped out to its first double-digit lead as the clock hit zero. After missing her first two attempts from beyond the arc, Kaylah Ivey let it fly at the end of the first quarter. The buzzer sounded just after the ball cut through the net, but it was almost inaudible over the roar of fans. The buzzer-beating 3-pointer put the Eagles up 20–9 at the end of quarter.
The Eagles and Bobcats traded shots throughout the second period, with Quinnipiac responding each time BC stretched its lead. The pattern went on, however, only as long as Quinnipac had time to respond.
With six seconds left in the first half, Makayla Dickens picked up where Ivey left off. Ivey passed the ball off to Dickens at the top of the key, and without taking a dribble, Dickens lobbed up a contested shot from deep 3-point range. It rattled through the rim, and the Eagles had a 49–35 lead heading to halftime. It was, once again, impossible to hear the buzzer.
BC held a lead of at least 10 points throughout the rest of the game, with its margin increasing to as many as 26 during a 25-point offensive showing in the fourth quarter.
“We had a really good first quarter [and a] really good fourth quarter,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “It was fun. There was no letup. There was no letdown. That was one of the first games we’ve had like that, where it didn’t matter who we rotated in—they were ready to go, and they were ready to play.”
While Soule’s performance was the key to BC’s success, Swartz’s play also proved invaluable. She shot a near-perfect 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, adding 20 points and eight rebounds. She also refused to give up a single turnover through 35 minutes of play. Garraud rounded out the BC offensive attack with 13 points.
“It’s always good when your shots are falling,” Swartz said. “That was good—seeing the ball go in the hoop and getting a win and, most importantly, going on to the Sweet 16.”
The Eagles came up just short of an NCAA Tournament appearance this season in what could be the final year for their core of seniors. They are now 2–0 in the NIT after winning their first two games by a combined margin of 51 points.
“We have something to prove, and we’re not going to stop until we do it,” Swartz said.
Featured Image by Chris Ticas / Heights Staff