After winning the first four games of the season against non-conference opponents, Boston College has dropped its fourth consecutive game in ACC play, falling to 4-4 on the season. Even more worrying than the record, the Eagles have shown a troubling proclivity for disappearing in the fourth quarter. Like a horse fading down the home stretch, BC keeps pace through first half and then implodes in the second. It’s clear Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee needs to settle her players before a date Notre Dame on Thursday.
After losing a heartbreaker in the first matchup last month, BC aimed to come out of the gates swinging. To their credit, they played a great first quarter. The Eagles and the Pack traded buckets for the first few minutes, with Makayla Dickens and Raina Perez each scoring four points in the opening five minutes. From there, State opened up a small lead, but BC was nipping at their heels. Marnelle Garraud hit a three to cut the lead to three and then Ally Van Timmeren, the freshman newcomer, got her first collegiate bucket. Back and forth they went. Taylor Soule tied the game with a nice step-back jumper, but NC State pulled away again. At the end of the first quarter, NC State led 21-17. BC, though, wasn’t out of it yet.
Something changed in the second quarter, though. After playing stellar basketball against a top five team in the country, the Eagles couldn’t buy a bucket. They managed just twelve points in the second half. Cam Swartz hit a nice fall-away jumper to cut the lead to two, but Wolfpack center Elisa Cunane pounded BC inside. Cunane fueled an NC State run which stretched the lead to eight. She scored twelve points in the second quarter. Without any answers, BC fell into a long shooting slump. Three after three careened off the iron. For the game, they went 6-22 from deep. NC State scored the last basket of the half and went into the locker room up 38-29.
It would be interesting to hear what NC State Coach Wes Moore said to his players at halftime because it seemed like he lit a fire under them during the break. NC State opened the half with a 7-0 run and maintained at least a 12-point lead for the majority of the third quarter. Vantimmeren stopped the bleeding with five points of her own, but then Raina Perez took over the game. She recorded back to back steals and, with Cunane’s help, scored in transition three straight times to push the Wolfpack lead to 16. With her troops in trouble, Coach McNamee called timeout, but it didn’t get any better before the end of the third.
Down seventeen with ten minutes to play, the Eagles coaching staff opted to play a full-court 1-2-1-1 press. Surprisingly, this flustered NC State, and for the first few minutes of the final quarter the Wolfpack couldn’t stop turning the ball over. Taylor Soule, Cam Swartz, and Jaelyn Batts all recorded steals and converted some clutch layups. Suddenly it seemed like BC was going to make a comeback. After Coach Moore called timeout, however, the Wolfpack did not have any difficulties breaking the press. NC State pulled away for the final time and won 76-57.
At 4-4, Boston College has now lost more consecutive games than they did at any point last year. They sit at the bottom of the conference standings. After winning eleven games in ACC play a season ago, one has to be concerned about the Eagles. Clara Ford and Akunna Konkwo have played admirably in the place of Emma Guy and Taylor Soule is still playing at an All-ACC level. Soule finished today’s game with 14 points, six rebounds, and two steals all while shooting fifty percent from the floor.
So, what’s going on? Whatever the reason is for their recent troubles, BC needs to shape up in a hurry. The Eagles will play Notre Dame on Thursday before traveling to Louisville to face the No. 2 ranked Cardinals on the 14th.