WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—Senior forward Aja Parham said before Tuesday’s game that Boston College’s Dec. 3 66-61 overtime loss at home to then-No. 4 Ohio State helped the team realize that it could play with the best.
Now this team knows that it can beat the best.
Behind the hot shooting of junior guard Kindyll Dorsey, who was 9-for-13 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range for 24 points, and the steady play of their post players, the No. 8 Eagles knocked off the No. 1 seed in the Albuquerque bracket, the Ohio State Buckeyes, by a score of 79-69 at Mackey Arena.
In doing so, the Cinderella Eagles punched a ticket to New Mexico and the Sweet Sixteen this weekend.
“I haven’t been there [to Albuquerque] but I know it’s going to be a little bit warmer,” said BC head coach Cathy Inglese.
Yes, the sun will shine on the Eagles for a few more days, thanks to their unwavering confidence in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, even off the heels of a five-game losing streak to end the regular season.
Just as they did against Notre Dame in the first-round game on Sunday, the Eagles came out firing.
The Buckeyes matched the Eagles basket for basket, as the first seven shots attempted by both teams went in.
The Eagles held an 8-7 lead and then went on a 9-0 run, capped off by a Brooke Queenan layup for a 17-7 BC advantage at 13:06. While the Eagles cooled off a bit offensively, the Buckeyes continued their hot shooting, overcoming the early turnovers that largely contributed to the Eagles’ early lead.
OSU’s star post players, 6-5 Kodak All-American Jessica Davenport and 6-1 Debbie Merrill, showed off the versatile play that made the Buckeyes a formidable team all season, making long jump shots and extending the defense to allow them to get points in the paint as well. Each had eight points in the first half and helped Ohio State whittle down the Eagles’ lead in the final stages of the half.
With another Davenport jumper at 5:46, the game was tied at 31, and the partisan Buckeye crowd made itself heard for the first time all night. The Eagles showed their resiliency, making a key offensive stand when Ohio State took a brief 35-33 lead at 2:03.
Dorsey hit a running floater on the baseline to tie the game at 35, and then hit a three to put BC back up 38-35 before the half.
The two teams battled back and forth early in the second half, with the Eagles holding onto their lead even during an extended scoring drought from 15:38 to 9:44.
While the Buckeyes had ample opportunities to pull back in front, the Eagles came up with timely stops on Davenport, as they did throughout the night.
“I think we did a really good job helping on [defense] and Kathrin [Ress] did an excellent job with Davenport. I think we stuck to our game plan well and stayed focused on what we thought we needed to do,” said Queenan, who had 19 points and five rebounds.
When Ohio State finally inched back in front on a Kim Wilburn jumper at 10:52 to make it 48-46, the Eagles made the second of their big offensive stands, as junior point guard Sarah Marshall drew a foul on a drive to the basket. Her free throws tied the game back up, and after another key stop on the defensive end, Dorsey put BC up for good with a three-pointer to pull to 51-48 with 9:13 to play.
“When we had the lead we threw the ball into a guard on the low block and we forced the shot. We needed to get a quality shot that time down the floor and we didn’t,” said Ohio State head coach Jim Foster.
Every time Ohio State hit a bucket down the stretch, the Eagles had an answer. They showed the poise of a veteran team playing with confidence, a team with nothing to lose, a team with the chemistry to pull off the kind of upset that few other teams in the history of the NCAA Tournament have been able to.
“I think we’re probably some of the only people who aren’t surprised where we are right now. I think a lot other people might be, but we were very confident with ourselves and our game plan and just went out there and played and we were able to come out with this great win,” said Marshall.