Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Take Down Holy Cross 66–61 in Season Opener

With 7:32 remaining in the third quarter of Monday’s season opener, Boston College women’s basketball head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee turned away from the court and looked at her bench. Trailing 36–30, the Eagles needed a spark.

Bernabei-McNamee pointed at five of her bench players and directed them toward the scorer’s table to relieve her starting group. 

“Not really getting after the boards there and jogging a little bit got me a little frustrated,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I think [the starters] responded once they got back in and they played a lot better.”

A bench unit of Kayla Lezama, T’Yana Todd, Lili Krasovec, JaKayla Thompson, and Nene Ndiaye gave BC the spark it needed to edge out Holy Cross Monday evening inside Conte Forum. Each player helped rejuvenate the roster’s energy. 

“The people that came out of the game were on the bench like going nuts for the people that were in the game,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “That’s indicative of what a great team does.”

Behind strong showings from Andrea Daley and Dontavia Waggoner, BC (1–0) sneaked past Holy Cross (0–1) 66–61. The Eagles struggled for much of Monday’s matchup with the Patriot League’s preseason favorite but executed down the stretch to earn the victory. BC shot just 32.9 percent from the field.

“First games are always hard when you have a new group together, and they want to go out and do so well,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I thought they bounced back well, and they found a way to finish it.”

The Eagles began the game with a suffocating full-court press, which resulted in an immediate 10-second violation on Holy Cross. The Crusaders adjusted, however, and quickly capitalized on several transition opportunities to take a 13–8 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter. 

Kaitlyn Flanagan, who finished with nine points and seven assists, canned a 3-pointer before finishing a layup to prompt an early BC timeout. 

Although BC tightened things up on the defensive end of the floor, it continued to struggle offensively in the first frame. Nine different Eagles saw the court in the first quarter, but nobody consistently knocked down shots. BC trailed 15–12 after one quarter, shooting 23.8 percent from the field.  

“I don’t think anybody really got to see what our team was made of today,” Bernabei-McNamee said of the Eagles’ offensive showing. 

Holy Cross kept its foot on the gas and extended its lead to 20–14 when Bronagh Power-Cassidy, a Preseason All-Patriot League Team selection, drained a 3-pointer. BC battled back with an 8–0 run to take a two-point advantage, thanks to a pair of Daley baskets. 

The Crusaders responded with an 8–0 run of their own to regain a six-point lead. BC continued to come up empty on the offensive end and scored just four points over the final seven minutes of the second quarter to head into halftime down 31–26. 

Despite forcing 13 Holy Cross turnovers, the Eagles shot 24.4 percent in the first half and converted on just one of 14 3-point attempts. 

“I think in the first half, our chemistry wasn’t quite there, but I think as a coaching staff, we really didn’t want to panic about it,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I thought it was eventually gonna click and happen.”

BC remained offensively challenged in the opening minutes of the second half, and Bernabei-McNamee yanked her starters from the game. Todd proceeded to drill a 3-pointer, Krasovec blocked two shots on one possession, and Thompson finished a layup, giving the Eagles a much-needed boost of energy. BC drew within two points of the Crusaders at 38–36.  

The Eagles manufactured several opportunities to knot the score, but Holy Cross stayed tough defensively. Lindsay Berger cashed in on an and-1 opportunity in the final seconds of the third quarter, putting the Crusaders up 49–45 going into the final 10 minutes. 

Back-to-back buckets from Waggoner and a putback from Daley at the 6:57 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Eagles their first lead since the second quarter at 51–49. Waggoner totaled 18 points and five steals, while Daley finished with a team-high 23 points and brought in eight rebounds. 

“I felt like our shots weren’t falling, so I feel like going in, being aggressive the whole entire time—even though the paint was packed—I feel like that was more important to like get those easy buckets,” Daley said. 

Clinging to a two-point lead, the Eagles went ahead by four after Daley finished beneath the rim on a feed from Teya Sidberry. Power-Cassidy responded instantly, however, with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one with 58 seconds remaining. But BC knocked down its free throws and played lockdown defense in the closing seconds to seal the 66–61 win.

“I was glad to get, you know, a win and now we have a lot of things to grow from,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

November 7, 2023