Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles Suffer 80–75 Loss to Duke in ACC Opener

Boston College women’s basketball scrounged up 27 points in its matchup against Duke in February of the 2022–23 season, marking the second-fewest points the Blue Devils have ever allowed in an ACC matchup. 

The Eagles’ (8–6, 0–1 Atlantic Coast) New Year’s Eve matchup against the Blue Devils (9–4, 1–1), however, did not emulate February’s uncompetitive loss in the slightest. Instead, Sunday’s game was close all the way down to the buzzer. 

“There’s no easy games in the ACC,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “It’ll be a battle every night. I don’t care who you’re playing. So we’ve got to be mentally and physically prepared for that.” 

During a dry second half in terms of scoring for the Eagles, Kaylah Ivey made it clear she would not go down without a fight. 

After a sloppy turnover by Duke, Ivey hit a three with 3:18 left in the game to cut BC’s deficit to six. Less than a minute later, she banked another 3-pointer in to make the score 75–70. 

With 13 seconds left to play, Ivey heaved up a shot from long range that fell to make the score 77–73. Ivey’s barrage of shots came too late, though, as the Eagles ultimately walked away with an 80–75 defeat. 

BC’s loss did not come from lack of effort, though. BC tallied 24 offensive rebounds, and the Eagles’ defense created 28 Duke turnovers—a season high for the Blue Devils. 

“We talk a lot about the things we can control,” Bernabei McNamee said. “Being gritty, being relentless, playing with a lot of passion, and a lot of heart—those are all things that you have great control over as a player.”

But BC’s relentlessness did not help its shotmaking, or its performance from the free-throw line. 

The Eagles shot 37 percent from the field, missing several layups in the fourth quarter that could have inched them back into the game. The Eagles also missed eight of their 22 free throw attempts. 

“Girls’ basketball games are won on free throws and layups,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

The Blue Devils were led by former BC point guard Taina Mair, who put on a clinic. She scored 21 points and made three of the four shots she took from behind the arc. 

With about five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Mair hit two quick 3-pointers—her first six points of the game. Those buckets stifled the Eagles’ energy and cut BC’s early lead to five. 

“[There were] a couple defensive mental lapses … You can’t out-hustle a wide open three,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

Teya Sidberry and JoJo Lacey stopped the bleeding, though, and responded to Mair’s offensive finesse with playmaking of their own. The two combined for 30 points on the afternoon. 

With 1:56 remaining in the first quarter, Lacey banked an off-balance shot in, picking up a foul in the process. Shortly after, Sidberry ripped through at the free throw line and took her defender off the dribble, driving to the rim and converting a layup. 

Sidberry’s aggression in the paint continued throughout the game and she forced Duke’s Kennedy Brown to foul her under the basket. As Brown picked up fouls, she was forced to sit. 

But Duke did not need Brown’s scoring to win, as four other Blue Devils put double digits on the board to bring their team a victory and make BC 0–1 in conference play. 

“We got to have sustained excellence, sustained competitiveness … for 40 minutes … today it was more like 32 minutes,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

January 1, 2024