Survive and advance – that’s just what Boston College did against Pitt. The 6-11 Eagles, coming off a blowout loss in their season finale against Syracuse, got their revenge on Pitt in the ACC tournament, winning 67-56. Two weeks ago, Pitt walked away with a win in Conte Forum after a sixteen point comeback in the second half. Wednesday afternoon, Boston College made sure history did not repeat itself. Cam Swartz dominated the game with a career-high 33 points, shooting 50% from behind the arc and, unlike other recent games, BC’s defense stepped up in clutch moments to seal the win in the second half.
Cam Swartz is hard player to read. During some games it seems like she can’t be stopped by anyone and during others she looks completely out of sorts. Luckily for the Eagles, Cam Swartz was unstoppable against the Panthers. After Pitt won the tip and scored the opening basket, Swartz responded with BC’s first nine points. First she was fouled in the act of shooting and she sank three free throws. Next, Jaelyn Batts found Swartz on an inside-out pass against the Pitt zone defense for three more. Moments later, Swartz launched a 27 footer over Jayla Everett which sailed through the net without even touching the rim. It was quite the start for BC and, even with Taylor Soule on the bench with two fouls, the Eagles kept rolled to an early seven-point lead.
Pitt would crawl back into it, though, and soon the game felt like a one-on-one duel between Cam Swartz and Jayla Everett. Swartz scored 11 of her 20 first-half points in the second quarter, punishing the Panther at the line and from the field. Jayla Everett, who also scored 11 points in the second, was just as good. With just two minutes left in the half, Everett went 3-4 from the field for nine points, engineering a run which cut the BC lead to two at the half.
As we’ve said before, BC has a problem with second halves. In the previous game against Pitt, they surrendered 49 points in the final two quarters. Well, they made sure it didn’t happen again. The Eagles’ defense stiffened in the second half- holding Pitt to just 30 points on just 35% shooting. Clara Ford, Taylor Soule, and Ally Vantimmeren were maniacs on the glass. They boxed out Pitt’s forwards with such tenacity that Pittsburgh, the team that leads the ACC in offensive rebounds, hauled in only two offensive boards in the second half. On offense, Cam Swartz and Marnelle Garraud picked apart the Panther’s D. Swartz kept her career night alive with five third quarter points while Garraud tallied seven to stretch the Eagles lead to nine. AT the end of three, BC led 47-38.
In the final ten minutes, the Eagles made short work of Pitt. The Panthers didn’t seem to have anything left. They struggled to score, they couldn’t get the offensive rebounds that they rely on, and they couldn’t stop Cam Swartz. When the final buzzer sounded, Boston College had won 67-56. Cam Swartz’s career day propelled the Eagles to just their third conference win this season.
As the number 13 seed, Boston College will face Syracuse in the next round of the tournament. This will be a familiar challenge for Coach McNamee’s squad. The Orange crushed the Eagles 92-75 just last week. The question is – can BC stop history from repeating itself? Taylor Soule was kept on the bench for most of Wednesday’s game and was held to just 4 points. They’ll need her against the Orange. It may also take another huge game from Swartz, but she has struggled against Syracuse in her career. In all, this was a great victory for the Eagles, but there will be no rest for the weary. BC will take on Syracuse tomorrow afternoon at 2:30.
Photo courtesy of BCEagles.com