It’s been a tough season for Joanna Bernabei McNamee and her Eagles. After Boston College’s 2020 campaign ended with 11 ACC wins, the 2021 team has managed just two. Thursday night’s game saw the Eagles hang with Syracuse for the first half before falling behind by double digits. Though Makayla Dickens, Kaylah Ivey and Taylor Soule showed some fight at the end, it was too little too late. The Orange, fueled by five double-digit scorers, routed BC 92-75.
From the tip, it seemed like a blowout loss in the Carrier Dome was inevitable. After spending the week preparing for the 6’7 Kamilla Cordoso, the Eagles looked surprised when Diga Strautmane and Tiana Mangakahia started shooting the lights out. Before Boston College knew what hit them, they were already down 10-0. Luckily enough, Coach McNamee’s squad was able to knock down a few threes of their own. Dickens, Cam Swartz, and Ally Vantimmeren all drained three pointers to pull the Eagles back into the game. Taylor Soule added two buckets of her own and, after a disastrous start, BC was only down four heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Syracuse stretched their lead. Even with Cordoso on the bench due to foul trouble, Mangakahia and Emily Engstler punished the Eagles for giving them open looks. To their credit, Soule and Dickens battled hard to keep BC afloat. Dickens, one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, drained two more threes and a long two in the second, giving her 14 in the first half. Still, like they have been in every loss this season, turnovers became an issue for Boston College. Every time they would pull within five points of Syracuse, an unforced error would send the Orange hurtling back the other way for an easy transition basket. Coach McNamee’s team coughed the ball up 21 times, including seven in the second quarter. It was no surprise that Syracuse led by 12 at the half.
Setting aside Thursday’s win against Georgia Tech, Boston College has struggled to close out games. Against Pitt and Miami, issues on defense spelled the end for the Eagles in tight games. Thursday night was no exception. BC surrendered a total of 49 points in the second half against Syracuse, including 31 in the third quarter. What was a twelve-point lead quickly ballooned to a 20-plus point lead for the Orange. Cam Swartz did her best to stave off a total collapse with 11 points in the third, but her team’s fate was already sealed. No team can surrender 49 points in a half and walk away with a win.
Still, some Eagles refused to quit down the stretch. Swartz, Vantimmeren and Dickens all fouled out, but Soule and freshman Kaylah Ivey managed to slash the lead back to twelve several times. Ivey, who was 0-4 from the floor in the first three quarters, scored 8 consecutive points for BC to start the fourth. First, she beat Emily Engstler to rim for a nice layup. After that, she drained two deep threes to pull BC back within striking distance. Taylor Soule finished out her 23-point performance with a few more buckets, but Mangakahia and Priscilla Williams were too much. They scored eight points in the final two minutes to ruin any hopes of a comeback.
This year, amidst all the Covid-related pauses and the departure of three team leaders, the Eagles never quit. They’re young, and they will need to work out the kinks in their offense, but they always put forth tremendous effort. They play tough and, more importantly, they play together. Next week’s ACC tournament will give Boston College the chance to win a few more games and while they should focus on upcoming opponents, Coach Bernabei-McNamee and her staff should also look ahead to next season. This team is capable of more. I hope we get to see it.
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