Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

No. 14 North Carolina Overpowers Eagles 73–55

On Thursday, Boston College women’s basketball scored the second fewest points in a game in ACC history in a 68–27 loss to No. 9 Duke

Things didn’t go much better in BC’s Sunday afternoon matchup against No. 14 North Carolina, as the Eagles continued to slide down the ACC standings with their fourth straight loss and ninth loss in the last 10 games. 

Backed by Kayla McPherson and Kennedy Todd-Williams’ performances, the Tar Heels (18–7, 9–5 Atlantic Coast) overpowered BC (14–14, 4–11) and coasted to a lopsided 73–55 victory, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. The Eagles held a lead for a mere 58 seconds en route to their second double-digit loss in three games.

Sunday’s defeat marked the sixth straight game in which BC has been without leading scorer Dontavia Waggoner, and the Eagles’ lack of depth and experience was certainly a factor in Chapel Hill, N.C., according to BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee.

“This is that time of year when you have a really young team, and you’re playing kids that, you know—this is their first experience actually having the grind of playing college basketball,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I think we’re seeing that wear and tear because a lot of our mistakes are mental.”  

North Carolina was efficient all day on the offensive end, shooting 41.5 percent from the field and registering 11 3-pointers. Three Tar Heels finished in double figures.

The Tar Heels were stout on the defensive end, forcing 25 BC turnovers and preventing the Eagles from ever getting in a rhythm offensively. Starting at the 5:48 mark in the first quarter, BC went on to turn the ball over on four consecutive possessions. 

“It was frustrating,” Bernabei-McNamee said of BC’s turnovers. “We made mental errors that didn’t make sense.”

BC is averaging 20.3 turnovers per game this season.

North Carolina capitalized on the Eagles’ struggles and totaled 30 points off turnovers to dominate the game in transition. 

The Eagles fell behind 15–5 early in the first quarter. BC couldn’t get the ball inside to Maria Gakdeng and settled for many contested jump shots during the first frame, leading to BC shooting three of 12 from the field in the quarter.

“Their game plan of kind of sagging in on [Gakdeng] and pressuring the strong-side guard worked because we just didn’t move the ball well enough to get [Gakdeng] open,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

McPherson was a force offensively in the first half for the Tar Heels. The freshman guard created her own opportunities off the dribble and poured in 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in North Carolina’s 37-point first half. 

“[McPherson’s] a really fast guard,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I thought that she came in with a lot of confidence, knowing that North Carolina had some key players out and that she had to step up.”

North Carolina built on its 37–20 halftime lead in the second half, extending the advantage to as many as 28 points. BC offered little resistance, and the Eagles’ trio of JoJo Lacey, Taina Mair, and Gakdeng was a non-factor—the three combined to shoot just seven of 26 in the game from the field. 

Todd-Williams, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, was instrumental in the Tar Heels’ success, specifically in the third quarter when she scored eight points and tallied three rebounds. 

“We’ve got to figure out on a whole how do we all keep each other positive,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We got to refocus and make the next game the most important game and try to have a goldfish-type memory and move forward.”

February 12, 2023