It’s never easy to see your team’s season end. Even though Boston College would have needed a couple of miracles to win the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, it’s sad to see them fall short. That said, on less than 24 hours’ rest, the Eagles gave it their all and gave Syracuse 40 minutes of hell. Makayla Dickens and First Team All-ACC forward Taylor Soule led the charge for BC but could not get their vengeance on Syracuse. Last week, The Eagles lost to the Orange by 17 in a game that saw Syracuse score 92 points. Thursday afternoon, Syracuse escaped with a win in a much closer game, 67-61.
For a moment in the first quarter, it looked like Cam Swartz was aiming for an encore performance. After dropping a career-high 33 points on Pitt Wednesday, Swartz started the game 2-2 from the floor. Two quick fouls, however, did her in, and she sat for most of the first half. Clara Ford and Taylor Soule picked up the slack, and BC was nipping at Syracuse’s heals going into the first break, down just five.
The second quarter was very even, with Swartz on the bench, however, the Eagles were dreadful from beyond the arc. To make matters worse, Kiara Lewis, taking over the lead guard spot for Tiana Mangakahia, found her stroke. The 6’0 guard showed off her excellent handles and much improved jumper, going for 14 points in the first half and seven in the quarter. Marnelle Garraud kept BC in it with two clutch buckets, though, and the Eagles defense bottled up Kamilla Cordoso. Cordoso, the 6’7 freshman center, managed just 4 points in Thursday’s game largely thanks to Soule, Ford and Ally Vantimmeren playing excellent defense. The Eagles forwards, dwarfed by Cordoso’s height, jammed the lane off of every Syracuse on-ball screen, making sure Cordoso couldn’t get two feet in the paint. At the half, Boston College was within striking distance, down 31-27.
In the third quarter, both teams played some ugly basketball. Syracuse turned the ball over four times in the quarter and, while they still managed 15 points in the period, the Orange couldn’t get the ball inside to their forwards. Credit the BC defense on that one. Boston College’s offense struggled even more. They managed just ten points in the third and missed every three-point attempt they took. At the end of the third quarter, BC was just 2-17 from three in the entire game. Yikes.
It looked like Boston College was down and out after three quarters. Their shots weren’t falling, they were committing too many turnovers, and Syracuse seemed to stay just one step ahead of them. Out of the break, though, Makayla Dickens led the Eagles on a run that would cut the lead to two. Less than a minute following the timeout, Dickens, who had scored just two points in the first thirty minutes, nailed back-to-back threes and forced a bad pass which was stolen by Jaelyn Batts. Clara Ford’s free throw cut the lead to two and it appeared BC had a little magic left. Dickens would go on to score six more points, giving her 12 in the quarter and 14 in the game, but Kiara Lewis and Amaya Finklea-Guity found clutch buckets of their own. Though they fought to cut the lead to four with thirty seconds left, BC was forced to foul and Syracuse made their free throws. Final score: Syracuse 67, BC 61.
Though this season did not live up to their expectations, the Eagles showed some real heart down the stretch. After losing to Georgia Tech by 18 points, they came back and beat Georgia Tech two months later. After losing to Pitt just two weeks ago, they came back and dismantled them in the conference tournament. Taylor Soule became just the third player in program history to be named first team All-ACC and Marnelle Garraud became the first player in program history to be named to the All-defensive team and the All-Academic team in the same season. This team will lose no players this off-season and will start five seniors next year in Dickens, Ford, Garraud, Swartz and Soule. Coach McNamee has also shown that she can rebound from a down year. This team is going to do big things next season and they’ll be exciting to watch.
Image courtesy of BCeagles.com