Boston College women’s basketball has asked a lot from freshman Taina Mair through the first five games of the season.
Head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee tasked Mair with commanding the floor, and the young guard played all but seven minutes of BC’s first four games of the season entering the Eagles’ Sunday afternoon game against Providence (3–2).
In the opening minutes of BC’s 73–64 win over the Friars, Mair demonstrated why Bernabei-McNamee believes she’s capable of filling such a demanding role.
“I’m definitely learning,” Mair said. “Especially how to be a leader, especially being a freshman taking on that role.”
Propelled by Mair’s blazing pace, the Eagles (3–2) needed just two minutes to race out to an 8–0 lead. Mair chipped in a 3-pointer and dished out an assist, while BC crashed the glass effectively.
From there, Providence showed Mair the challenges of playing floor general so early in her career. The Friars forced Mair to navigate through double-teams and blinding pressure, stripping the ball from her twice in the span of 20 seconds. Providence capitalized, as the Eagles went cold, tying the game up at 10 points apiece late in the first period. Eight of those 10 points came off BC turnovers.
“[Mair] was a major focus of what Providence was doing defensively,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “They were tracking her on ball screens and they were picking her up full-court.”
With the score tied at 14, the opening minutes of the second quarter played out similarly to the initial minutes of the first. BC’s defense forced the Friars into contested jumpers, while the Eagles’ offense detonated. A 19–3 run pushed BC’s lead up to 14.
During the run, freshman Kayla Lezama recorded her first career points, converting on a tough reverse layup and the and-one free-throw that followed.
Mair again found herself in the middle of the action, leading the way with a team-high eight points and three assists near the game’s midway point. And unlike in the first quarter, BC maintained its intensity and took a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
“I think [the difference was] just staying engaged on defense and stopping the ball and paying attention to kind of the details,” T’Yana Todd said.
The Eagles survived every punch Providence threw in the third quarter and carried a double-digit lead into the game’s final 10 minutes. BC entered the final quarter up 55–44.
Though the two teams played much of the fourth quarter separated by single digits, the Friars failed to ever seriously challenge BC’s lead.
With the game winding down to its last seconds, it was fitting that Mair—who celebrated her 19th birthday on Sunday with family sitting courtside—dribbled out the clock. The freshman, who led the nation in assists entering the game, bore the brunt of the scoring responsibility with a career-high 15 points.
“It was a great feeling,” Mair said. “I mean, after the game just going to see my family and everybody just cheering me on—it’s a great feeling.”