Before Boston College women’s basketball’s conference matchup against No. 9 Notre Dame in Conte Forum began, the Eagles celebrated Black History Month, donning warm up shirts that displayed the names of prominent Black figures who the Eagles look up to.
“Using their platform and being able to use their voice in a productive way is super important,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “Anything where there can be a better call for justice, if they’re able to do it I know they really take advantage of that opportunity.”
But in a game that meant more than basketball, BC failed to defeat the Fighting Irish, who—with a roster of six players standing over 6 feet—proved to be too tall a task for the Eagles. BC (14–11, 4–8 Atlantic Coast) failed to capitalize on its 20-point second quarter and collapsed in the second half en route to a 72–59 loss. Notre Dame (18–3, 9–2) flourished in the transition game, totaling 44 points in the paint in its road victory.
A stagnant first quarter led to a 4–0 Notre Dame lead, with all four points coming from the free throw line. Fouls, travels, and out-of-bounds balls led to an underwhelming start from the Eagles. In under five minutes, Notre Dame took a 13–3 lead, using its height advantage to drive the ball and grab offensive rebounds. Notre Dame scored 12 points in the paint in the first quarter.
“We really did want to do a better job blocking out but we didn’t,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “The one thing that faltered in this game today was our rebounding.”
A JoJo Lacey floater and Notre Dame turnover helped the Eagles regain speed. BC came within five, but was hurt by ball handling mistakes and missed shots. The Eagles made zero shots on four attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
“We can’t get stagnant offensively,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “When we get a lead we have to value that possession and realize how important that is. We need to really just work the ball.”
The Eagles started the second quarter with four straight points. Lacey swished a jumper and Andrea Daley made two free throws to bring the score to 19–18, Fighting Irish. The game’s pace quickened and both teams thrived in transition, but BC struggled to defend Notre Dame’s quick breakouts, leading to six fastbreak points for Notre Dame in the first half.
The Eagles’ defensive struggles and minimal offensive rebounds put Notre Dame ahead by seven with two minutes left in the first half. Daley and T’Yana Todd hit back-to-back 3-pointers to bring the Eagles within four, and Todd closed the gap to two heading into the break. BC outscored Notre Dame 20–13 in the second quarter, but Notre Dame totaled 19 rebounds in the first half alone.
“I saw patience in that second quarter,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I wish we could have just maintained that through the whole second half”
Sonia Citron, Notre Dame’s 6-foot-1 guard, led the Fighting Irish’s offense with 23 points. Citron, along with Olivia Miles—who notched 22 points—played fast in transition and attacked the rim.
Notre Dame scored six straight points to start the second half, but after a quiet first half, Taina Mair nailed a 3-pointer to bring BC back into the game. With 2:58 to go in the third quarter, Mair tied the game. BC continued to struggle against the height of the Fighting Irish, though, who reclaimed an eight-point lead to end the quarter.
Needing baskets to drop, BC came out with a renewed energy to start the fourth quarter. But whenever the Eagles got close, Notre Dame pulled away.
With six minutes left, the Irish had a 12-point cushion. BC struggled to defend the arc and let up back-to-back open Notre Dame 3-pointers. Shots weren’t falling for BC, and its deficit dropped to 19 points with 3:25 left to play. The gap proved too great to overcome, handing the Eagles their first home loss to Notre Dame since 2019.
“I think it’s a big improvement from the first time we played Notre Dame,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I still want to see more and I want us to grow up as fast as humanly possible because I think that we do have a dangerous team when we’re running on all cylinders.”