Often overshadowed by seniors like Taylor Soule and Cameron Swartz, Boston College women’s basketball juniors Dontavia Waggoner and JoJo Lacey had little opportunity to carve out rotation roles of their own during their sophomore campaigns in the 2021–22 season.
Since the start of the 2022–23 season, however, Waggoner and Lacey have taken advantage of increased minutes and have emerged as the anchors of BC’s roster, which has no seniors on it this year.
On the backs of their two junior leaders, the Eagles (8–4, 0–1 Atlantic Coast) clawed out of an early double-digit hole, topping Albany (5–6) by a final score of 74–62.
“It’s been really important that [the junior class] step up, especially [that] they’re there when we needed them,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said.
After grabbing an early 3–0 lead, BC’s offense grinded to a scoring halt halfway through the opening frame. The Eagles came out sleepy and disjointed, and struggled to generate open looks. Early turnovers allowed the Great Danes to gash the Eagles’ interior defense in transition.
“I think that recently we’ve come out a little slow in games,” Maria Gakdeng said. “But just like getting into the timeout and then just kind of waking up after that—making sure we were getting after it [was important], because earlier in the game, we just had some mental lapses.”
Staring down a 15–5 deficit just over five minutes into the period, Waggoner and Lacey took over and led BC on an 8–0 run to keep the game close. A last-second, mid-range bucket from Andrea Daley put BC ahead 19–17 at the quarter break.
BC controlled the second quarter, dominating the paint and the glass, and took a six-point edge into the second half. Waggoner and Lacey combined for 19 of the Eagles’ 34 first-half points.
After a Daley 3-pointer and a Waggoner and-1 play pushed its lead to nine, BC found some breathing room nearly five minutes into the third quarter.
Waggoner, who became sixth in the nation in steals after recording three in Saturday’s contest, fueled BC’s defense, making a number of acrobatic steals.
Down 11 heading into the final frame, Albany tightened up its defensive intensity and trimmed BC’s lead down to six with 2:25 left to play. The Eagles’ offense—which shot 50 percent from the field—continued to hum along, however, and effectively sealed the victory after Taina Mair clutched a 3-pointer and regained an 11-point lead.
Waggoner—who leads the Eagles in scoring this season in what has become a breakout junior campaign—led the way for BC again with 17 points and eight rebounds on her 21st birthday.
Daley added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Struggling from behind the arc, the source of much of the Eagles’ scoring came in the paint, where they registered 40 total points. BC’s forwards absorbed contact and drew 18 foul calls en route to scoring 16 of their points at the free-throw line.
“I think physicality is the advantage we have on other teams, so using that just helps us throughout the game,” Daley said.