Back at home for the first time since Nov. 21, the Boston College women’s basketball team looked to turn around a three-game losing streak against the University of Hartford. The Hawks, with a record of 1-7, were just the opponent to face to add momentum to BC’s season, and the Eagles’ dominance on offense and defense helped them come out on top with a score of 65-45.
The Eagles were first to put points on the board with a drive to the net by Lauren Engeln, who reclaimed two of her own rebounds on failed shots. The first few offensive attempts by the Hawks were shut down by the Eagles’ defense, which forced the shot clock to expire.
The Hawks pulled ahead briefly in the first half, but a seven-point scoring streak started by a 3-pointer from Kelly Hughes brought the Eagles ahead for the rest of the game. BC’s shots were a little short, but the Eagles had seven offensive rebounds to stay on top.
At halftime, BC led 31-24. The Eagles were 100 percent on free throws, going 3 for 3 on the line. Defensively, the Eagles had seven steals, two blocks, and only six turnovers. The BC defense did not allow any free-throw shots in the first half. BC was only 16 percent for 3-pointers though, while Hartford was 36 percent from behind the arc.
“We missed some shots we don’t normally miss, but we were right around the basket,” said head coach Erik Johnson. “Our offensive rebounding was much better than it has been, that’s been a weak point for us. To have 16 offensive rebounds, that makes up for a lot of the lower shooting percentage. So even though the shooting percentage was low for us on the game … the ability to go get the ball back is something we haven’t done well, so it was nice to be able to see that.”
The Eagles began the second half with posession after a jump ball was declared in BC’s favor. Nicole Boudreau was fouled on the 3-point line and started the half making two of her free-throw shots. Two 3-pointers from Kat Cooper and Kristen Doherty brought the Eagles a double-digit lead.
From there, the Eagles prevented the Hawks from a comeback by making scoring opportunities and shutting down Hartford on defense. Hartford’s offense was mostly successful on its full court rushes rather than settled offense. Hartford’s Deanna Mayza would start the offensive rush for the Hawks and look to teammate Amber Bepko, who capitalized on the shots with 16 points for the Hawks.
In the final minute, the Eagles had possession in their offensive zone and ran down the clock to finish the game.
“We talk about being relentless … we use that word, ‘relentless,’ a lot-post play, transitions, in rebounding-and I thought we embodied that very well today,” Johnson said.
BC’s defense didn’t give up any free-throw shots until the middle of the second half, with a foul on Katie Zenevitch giving Hawks player Cherelle Moore two shots from the line. The Hawks only went 4 of 7 from the line, while the Eagles went 8 of 11 in the second half and 11 of 14 for the game.
The Eagles did a better job making the first shot in the second half, constantly passing the ball and setting screens against the Hartford defense and allowing teammates to take open shots. The Eagles’ shooting percentage declined from 38 to 37, but 3-point percentage improved from 16 to 60 in the second half. BC capitalized on the 12 turnovers from the Hawks to generate its offense and move the ball down the court.
Despite what Johnson viewed as “sloppy execution” in the first half, the win had its highlights, which he plans to develop with the team.
“Tonight was a good step, that we don’t have to shoot the ball perfectly and we can still win,” Johnson said.
The Eagles had five players with double-digit point totals for the game: Zenevitch, Boudreau, Doherty, Cooper, and Engeln. Doherty led the team in rebounds, getting three offensive and six defensive boards for a game total of nine.
The Eagles headed into the weekend on a lower note with a road loss to the University of Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Despite strong shooting during the first half, in the end the Eagles’ offensive efforts were not enough to pull away from the Badgers, and the game ended with a final score of 74-59 in favor of Wisconsin.
Zenevitch was the most productive scorer for the Eagles with 17 points. She was followed closely by Doherty, who posted 14 points. The duo had 10 and nine rebounds, respectively.
BC shot 50 percent during the first half, but multiple lead changes kept the game close, with the Eagles retaining only a one-point lead at the end of the half. BC opened up the second frame with a 13-2 run, but was unable to hold onto its lead and was plagued with turnovers, allowing the Badgers to fight back for the win.
“We coughed the ball up a couple of times and had a few uncharacteristic travels,” Johnson said. “And when you do that against a quality team, playing well on the road, that’s a good formula to get yourself beat.”