Sports, Winter, Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball

Hokies Overpower BC in First Half as Eagles Drop ACC Opener

The first half of Boston College women’s basketball’s home game against No. 7 Virginia Tech Wednesday night couldn’t have looked more different than the second. 

While the Eagles (7–4, 0–1 Atlantic Coast) were blown out 43–24 in the first two quarters, they outscored Virginia Tech 34–30 in the final two quarters, looking like a completely different team. 

Despite its second-half surge, BC dropped its first ACC game of the season, falling to Virginia Tech (9–0, 1–0) 73–57 for its first loss since Nov. 26. 

“The first half, I thought we came out a little tentative, a little nervous,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “We didn’t play to the best of our abilities, but I never questioned how hard [the team] was playing. The third quarter, they came out with a lot of fire, a lot of grit, and that’s that team we need to channel for four quarters.” 

The Eagles ran out of energy and struggled to accelerate scoring opportunities in the first quarter. BC had only scored four points in the quarter until Taina Mair sank a 3-pointer with six seconds left.

While the second half lit a spark under BC’s Andrea Daley—who scored a team-high 15 points in the game—BC’s defense couldn’t match the offensive pressure from former BC guard and current Hokie Taylor Soule. Soule netted the first basket of the game less than a minute into the quarter and set the tone for the rest of the matchup. 

“For lack of better words, it was just awkward,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Taylor Soule was a player who was here in our program, and helped build our program. It was even weird seeing her name on the scout, on another team … but as always, I wish her the best.” 

Despite BC’s attempts to force the Hokies to the perimeter, Soule snuck through and landed rebounds. Soule led Virginia Tech to a 43–24 lead entering halftime.

“We defended really well, but every time we had a little bit of a mishap in communication on the defensive end,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Virginia Tech made us pay, and that’s a credit to how good their team is, and that’s really the type of team we want to be.”

By the end of the first half, Mair had recorded five points and Maria Gakdeng recorded eight. The two players proved to be an asset to BC’s young roster as BC struggled to find lanes but still fought aggressively, taking six fouls as a team by the end of the half. 

“I thought the opportunity for our freshman point guard to go up against Georgia Amoore was great,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I love to watch that battle, and I love to watch the inside battle of Maria versus [Elizabeth Kitley]. Iron sharpens iron.”

The Eagles came back from half with a renewed energy, holding Virginia Tech to zero points through the first two minutes and outscoring the Hokies 22–16 in the third quarter. 

Daley was the catalyst for BC’s third-quarter success.

“I just flat out told her, you’re one of the best players on the court,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “But you did not play like it the first two quarters. So, show [them] that you are. Go out with confidence.”

In addition to her 15 points, Daley racked up six rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal.

“I’m really proud of the way [Daley] played, and I think that’s going to be that light bulb now that’s clicked on,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I just hope we keep it bright and shining.”  

As time ran out, the game became more aggressive. 

The Hokies picked up an offensive foul with seven minutes left in the game, forcing officials to review a 3-pointer from Cayla King—which would have been her sixth 3-pointer of the night. Bernabei-McNamee was quick to challenge the points, and the officials deemed the shot no good. 

BC triple-teamed the Hokies and suffocated King, but the Eagles couldn’t make a basket until there was just over six minutes left. 

Dontavia Waggoner’s comeback layup reignited the Eagles’ spark, and was followed by a Gakdeng hook shot. Seconds later, Daley dropped her seventh and eighth free throws of the night to put BC within 10 with Virginia Tech leading 64–54. 

But a Kayana Traylor 3-pointer with 2:40 left on the clock widened the gap on the scoreboard, and the Hokies pulled through to victory. 

“For us, it’s a matter of putting a game together where we come out from the jump and play really hard,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Our goal is to keep channeling us playing as hard as we can, and as smart as we can.”

December 8, 2022