Heading into Sunday’s game, Boston College women’s basketball and Pittsburgh were both riding losing streaks—BC had lost five straight games and Pitt had lost eight.
It was the Eagles (14–10, 4–7 Atlantic Coast) who snapped their streak, defeating the visiting Panthers (7–14, 0–10) 74–60 on Women in Sports Day at Conte Forum.
“I have two sons, and I want them to look up to them, and they do,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “But if I had daughters as well, these are the shoes that I would want them to fill. These players carry themselves in a great way on a day to day basis whether it’s on campus, when we’re on the road, or when they’re in their social lives.”
Physical play in the paint dominated the first two periods, but neither team could separate itself. After Pitt’s Amber Brown missed two free throws with three seconds left in the second quarter, both teams entered halftime tied at 26 apiece.
“We had defensive intensity and communication together,” Bernabei McNamee said. “I thought we moved pretty well.”
At half, the Eagles’ frontcourt Maria Gakdeng and Ally VanTimmeren led BC’s roster in scoring, recording six points and nine points, respectively. Gakdeng and VanTimmeren drew fouls and crashed the boards all game, combining for nine rebounds through the first half and 21 total in the game.
Both teams struggled from beyond the arc in the first half, with Pitt connecting on two of nine shots from deep and the Eagles failing to connect on all of their nine attempts.
JoJo Lacey, however, ended the Eagles’ 3-point scoring drought just 12 seconds into the third quarter. Her triple set the Eagles on an 8–0 run, the biggest of the game for either team at that point.
BC didn’t relinquish its lead the rest of the way, using its strength down low to earn a 42–29 rebounding advantage.
“Especially in the second half we did a good job making sure that we’re getting into good rebounding position when the shots go up,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
In contrast to its first-half struggles from deep, BC hit eight 3-pointers in the second half, courtesy of five different players.
“I thought we got the same looks in the first and second half,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
Despite the Eagles’ second-half 3-point shooting improvements, VanTimmeren led the Eagles in scoring without attempting a 3-pointer. She recorded 8-of-9 shooting from the field for 17 total points.
“They were really focusing on [Gakdeng] and the paint, so I was playing off her and getting open on the low block, so we worked together and it worked out well,” VanTimmeren said.
Although the Eagles shot above 50 percent for the game, going 30 for 57 from the field, they shot under 50 percent from the free throw line. But BC’s 48–34 scoring advantage in the second half ensured that foul shots wouldn’t be the difference in Sunday’s game.