Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Taina Mair’s Career-High 26 points Not Enough As Eagles Fall to Pittsburgh

Boston College women’s basketball entered Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh on a four-game losing streak and losers of its past two games by double digits.

The Eagles (14–15, 4–12 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t end either streak in Pittsburgh, PA, falling to the Panthers (10–16, 3–12) 75–64 behind Pitt’s 51 bench points. Taina Mair’s career-high 26 points weren’t enough to carry BC, as the Eagles’ 23 percent 3-point shooting plagued them all game.  

“That feeling of excitement and being able to appreciate that stat line kind of went away with the loss,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said of Mair’s performance.

It took the Eagles over two minutes to score, and it finally came with a Taina Mair steal and score. But BC couldn’t find quality looks in the first quarter, shooting just 3-of-16 from the floor and turning the ball over six times in the first six minutes of the game. 

Pitt used a 6–0 run to propel them to a 15–7 lead heading into the second quarter.

“We had a lot of good open looks early, we just didn’t knock any of them down,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “It felt like a lid was on the basket.”

Pitt used a platoon system for substitutions, playing 12 total players throughout the game. The short-benched Eagles—who played only seven due to Dontavia Waggoner remaining out with an injury—struggled to keep up with the Panthers’ fresh legs. 

“I think sometimes it maybe gives them a little bit of a fresher mindset,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “But I also think it can work the other way, where they can’t really get into a grove. And I think our players did get into the groove as the game went on.”

The Panther’s zone defense allowed the Eagles opportunities to shoot threes over their zone. But BC couldn’t convert on its outside chances, going 0–of-10 from behind the arc in the first half, and also turning the ball over 13 times.

“Right now, we’re just making a lot of, as I call them, freshman mistakes,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

A 10–0 Pitt run to start the second quarter put the Panthers ahead 24–7, and by the quarter’s 7:30 mark, Pitt had already played 12 players. Seven of those players had scored, and the Panthers accumulated 22 first-half bench points compared to BC’s eight.

But the Eagles wouldn’t go away, as nine combined points from Mair and Andrea Daley fueled a 9–0 BC run to bring Pitt’s lead down to six at the 3:08 mark.

Mair, Daley, and Maria Gakdeng had 21 of BC’s 25 first-half points as the Eagles entered halftime down 36–25. Pitt had nine different players score by the half.

Gakdeng started off the scoring in the second half with a layup to bring BC within single-digits that was followed by Mair nailing a 3-pointer, the Eagles’ first 3-pointer of the night. Mair continued to look for her shot, and she hit her second 3-pointer at the 7:33 mark to cut Pitt’s lead to 38–33.

BC converted on five 3-pointers in the third quarter, capitalizing on its newfound energy that rewarded its offense. The Eagles maintained their single-digit deficit throughout much of the quarter, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Mair and T’yana Todd brought BC with three points at the 1:04 mark. Mair registered 13 total points in the quarter. 

“I don’t think it was anything more than us just hitting more shots as the game developed,” Bernabi-McNamee said.

Pitt’s Maliyah Johnson, however, executed a steal and score to extend the Panthers’ lead to seven heading into the final quarter.

Gabby Hutcherston, who finished with five points, knocked down a 3-point to put Pitt ahead 64–50 at the 8:28 mark in the fourth quarter, capping off an 11–0 Panthers run. But the Eagles wouldn’t go away, as Todd nailed her third 3-pointer to bring BC within 10, and Mair rallied off five straight points to cut Pitt’s lead to 65–61 with less than five minutes remaining.

The late BC run was ultimately not enough, though, as Pitt once again established a double-digit lead, this time from a Dayshanette Harris 3-pointer, and the Eagles were sent home with their fifth-straight loss.

“We just gotta keep doing what we do and eventually, hopefully, turn this around.”

February 17, 2023