Throughout Boston College women’s basketball’s 2021–22 season, Dontavia Waggoner established herself as a defensive specialist, recording the most steals on the team with 18. Game after game, Waggoner played scrappily on the court, racking up steals and defensive rebounds.
On Jan. 1, Waggoner posted a then–career high five steals against New Hampshire, and in BC’s ACC Tournament loss to Florida State, she made a key steal that kept BC in the game late in the fourth quarter.
But toward the end of the Eagles’ season—particularly in the postseason—Waggoner began to contribute more to BC’s offense, and this year her role in the Eagles’ game plan has grown even larger.
Led by Waggoner, who scored a team-high 18 points, BC (2–2) defeated Northeastern 64–59 on Wednesday for its first road win of the season. Waggoner’s play kept BC within reach of the Huskies (1–2), setting the Eagles up to overcome Northeastern in the final moments of the game to earn the victory.
“I think that my defense steers my offense,” Waggoner said. “If I’m having a good defensive game, then I feel like my offensive game will come.”
Waggoner recorded five steals in the win.
“She’s really a good, a big energizer on defensive end now she’s realizing on the offensive end, a lot of times if they’re going to double Maria [Gakdeng], they’re doing it with her man,” head coach Bernabei-McNamee said. “So, it’s kind of getting her now to realize ‘you’re gonna be open, just take your time, have confidence, and shoot the ball.’”
BC and Northeastern traded leads throughout the first quarter. A 3-pointer from JoJo Lacey opened the Eagles’ scoring and BC led 24–19 by the end of the first 10 minutes.
The Eagles maintained their lead through the entirety of the second quarter, but Northeastern closed the gap and headed into halftime down 35–33. The Huskies’ Gemima Motema helped close the gap, scoring seven straight points for Northeastern to start the quarter.
Motema finished the game with 21 points.
Sophomore Andrea Daley led the Eagles’ first-half scoring with 10 points. She has now scored 10-plus points in two consecutive games.
“I think [Daley] is finally realizing how athletic and how strong she actually is,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “In my opinion, she could be—once she puts everything together and continues to work on her skill level—I think she could be one of the better players in the country. But still, she’s on that path of growth.”
Gakdeng, who had a team high 15 rebounds, said she and other more experienced players have worked hard to support players like Daley who have stepped up to take on a larger role this season.
“I think just being there for them as a teammate, giving them tips how to be a better player, or how to take on a bigger role, because there’s so many young players on our team that have to step up,” Gakdeng said. So just like being there for each other and making sure we’re all playing with confidence at the end of the day.”
Freshman Taina Mair finished with four points and eight rebounds, while freshman T’Yana Todd recorded nine points. Lacey—who’s started all four of the Eagles’ games this season after zero starts last year—finished with 11 points.
In the third quarter, Waggoner took off. With 3:46 left in the quarter and BC down by eight points—its largest deficit of the night—Waggoner scored a layup, recorded a steal, and then notched another layup to bring the Eagles within four points.
With 34 seconds left in the game and BC up 60–59, the Huskies had possession with a chance to take the lead. Waggoner, however, stole the ball from Motema, and Mair and Todd each converted on two free throws to ice the game for BC.
“We play situation basketball a little bit at practice especially when we have a good scout team there to go against, so I think that hopefully kept us calm at the end of this game,” Bernabei-McNamee said.