If there’s been one calling card for Boston College women’s basketball this season, it’s been resilience. The Eagles entered the 2022–23 season with one of the youngest teams in the nation and plenty of doubters.
On Thursday night, in the second round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., BC fought and battled once again. The No. 11-seed Eagles (16–17, 5–13 Atlantic Coast) went toe to toe with No. 6-seed Miami (19–11, 11–7) for three quarters in what was mostly a back-and-forth affair but ultimately ran out of steam. The Hurricanes eventually pulled away for an 84–69 win, outscoring BC 24–13 in the fourth quarter, ending the Eagles’ season.
“[We] played strong for three quarters,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “We just got to put four together, and credit goes to Miami for playing so hard.”
Miami’s Lashae Dwyer’s big second half proved to be the difference-maker.
“I was just ready when my number was called,” Dwyer said. “My teammates put the trust in me to just keep feeding the hot hand, so I was thankful for them.”
Dwyer scored 15 of her game-high 19 points after the intermission, including 10 in the final quarter. The Hurricanes also dominated the glass, out-rebounding BC 39–23 and registering 17 offensive rebounds.
“Credit to Miami,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “They rebounded the ball so well all game, and, you know, they got to the 50-50 balls.”
The Eagles hit adversity immediately when forward Ally VanTimmeren went down writhing in pain with a right leg injury just 36 seconds into the game. VanTimmeren, who has provided BC with much-needed size all season, did not return to the game.
Her absence was certainly felt in the first half, as the Hurricanes dominated the glass, out-rebounding BC 17–5 in the first quarter and 22–10 in the first half. Miami’s Lola Pendande, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, was a force in the paint early, pulling down five rebounds in the first quarter. The forward stepped up to the free throw line seven times in the quarter, earning easy looks.
“I think the start of the game was a Lola Pendande show,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “She started the game establishing [herself], and that’s why I think we’re difficult because we can reinvent ourselves.”
The Hurricanes went on a 12–1 run—which spanned from the end of the first quarter to the 8:38 mark of the second frame—that countered an initial hot start for BC, who led 10–3 early. The Eagles were discombobulated on offense amid this run and turned the ball over five times.
BC responded with a 10–4 spurt of its own to retake a 26–25 lead. Andrea Daley led the Eagles’ push, as the gritty guard had a nose for the basket and totaled 11 points of 4-of-4 shooting while snatching two key offensive rebounds.
The Hurricanes did a good job limiting Maria Gakdeng in the early going, limiting the center to six first-half points. But the Eagles’ role players made several contributions, including freshman T’Yana Todd, who drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to bring BC within one at halftime, 39–38. Dontavia Waggoner also followed up on her impressive return on Wednesday with 12 points against the Hurricanes.
Miami surged out of the locker room to enter the second half, jumping out to a quick 10–4 run. But the Eagles swiftly stabilized the game and began to find Gakdeng consistently. Gakdeng scored six consecutive Eagles points to cut Miami’s deficit to three at the 5:06 mark.
But the Hurricanes kept their foot on the gas toward the end of the third quarter, and a Dwyer 3-pointer put them ahead 60–56 at the end of the third quarter.
“We only had four turnovers in the second half,” Meier said of Miami’s efficiency in the second half. “We really changed what we needed to change.”
Dwyer continued to lead the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, attacking the rim often and taking control of the game. The Hurricanes knocked down four of five shots to start the quarter to build a 71–62 lead and force a BC timeout with less than six minutes remaining.
The Eagles struggled to make shots down the stretch and turned the ball over five times in the final 10 minutes. BC also lost Daley, who finished with 15 points, to injury midway through the quarter, limiting its offense even more.
Miami continued to hold the advantage on both ends of the floor, and the Hurricanes’ dominance in the fourth quarter was evident. Haley Cavinder scored seven of her 14 points in the final frame, and Miami advanced to the quarterfinals with a 15-point victory.
“Over the course of this season, I feel like we’ve had games where we came back from, you know, deficits, and I feel like we got some really good wins under our belt during the season,” Gakdeng said. “It showed how good of a team we could be, so I feel like there’s so much upside to us.”