Entering its final game of the season having lost 11 of its last 12 games, Boston College women’s basketball desperately needed a win on Sunday against Wake Forest.
Over the matchup’s first 10 minutes, however, the Eagles’ recent woes seemed unshakeable, as they fell behind by double digits with 2:44 left in the quarter.
But BC kicked into gear in the second quarter, surging to a 14–0 start in the frame. Led by a season-high 22 points from Maria Gakdeng, the Eagles (15–16, 5–13 Atlantic Coast) spoiled the Demon Deacons’ (14–15, 5–13) senior day and picked up a much-needed 73–63 win.
“Everybody lifted each other up,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “And that’s what you got to do in this conference to get a win. Everybody’s got to really play together.”
The win also snapped BC’s six-game losing streak and helped end the Eagles’ regular season on a positive note, according to Gakdeng.
“It was a good way to end the regular season,” Gakdeng said. “We’re all in good spirits now, so going into the ACC Tournament I think we’re going to be really ready.”
Wake Forest needed just over three minutes to claim an early 10–3 lead after Mack Maier and Jewel Spear each drilled a 3-pointer.
The Demon Deacons continued to pour it on and rode a 12–2 run to end the first quarter and go ahead 26–13.
Perfect from the field, senior Kaia Harrison led the way for Wake Forest in the first 10 minutes, scoring nine points and dishing out three assists. Mair turned the ball over four times in the first quarter.
“We had a really bad first quarter,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
But Ally VanTimmeren kept her squad afloat in the second quarter, scoring eight points amid the Eagles’ 14–0 quarter-opening run.
A JoJo Lacey 3-pointer at the 4:46 mark of the second quarter knotted the game up 26–26, forcing Wake Forest head coach Megan Gebbia to call a timeout. The Demon Deacons had yet to score in the second quarter up to that point.
“I think that just sharing the ball was a big thing,” Gakdeng said. “I think once we got into that … we started having shots fall, and that’s when we picked up.”
BC grabbed its first lead of the game just over a minute later via a Mair jumper.
Lacey added another 3-pointer with 1:18 to play in the first half, sending the Eagles to the locker room ahead 33–32.
BC’s lead could have been larger, however, had the Eagles not left six points on the table with 4-of-10 first-half free throw shooting.
Despite BC’s second-quarter surge, the Eagles could not extinguish their turnover woes. Wake Forest made them pay, scoring 11 points off BC’s 11 first-half turnovers. Shooting struggles continued for Wake Forest in the third quarter, though it found offensive success drawing fouls and knocking down free throws.
Mair picked up her fourth personal foul late in the quarter, but Gakdeng—who put up 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the third quarter—carried the scoring load. The sophomore center dissected the Demon Deacons’ interior defense and dominated the paint.
“It was just already in my head to step up,” Gakdeng said. “So that’s just what I did.”
Gakdeng scored a reverse layup with five seconds remaining in the third quarter to put the Eagles ahead 51–49 entering the final 10 minutes. Freshman Kayla Lezama set up the Eagles’ basket by drawing a charging foul on the previous play.
“It was a huge momentum swing for us, and I was so proud for [Lezama], because she works hard everyday,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
Gakdeng stayed hot in the fourth quarter, scoring six straight points to open up some breathing room for the Eagles as the clock winded down.
Improved free throw shooting proved to be the difference, as BC nailed 10 of its 14 fourth-quarter attempts to seal the victory.
The win—despite BC’s shaky first quarter—marks a sign of optimism as BC begins preparing for the ACC Tournament, Bernabei-McNamee said.
“We’re really excited about the fact that we still haven’t put four quarters together again,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We haven’t done that in a while … so we’re kind of looking forward to, you know, ending on a really high note in this ACC Tournament.”