Thomas, Terrapins Crash Eagles’ Senior Night

Alyssa Thomas stripped the rock from an unsuspecting Boston College ball handler and took off down the court, weaving her way through the BC defenders and driving hard to the basket for the coast-to-coast layup. It was almost too easy. Upon reentering the game after being forced to sit due to two quick fouls early in the first half, Thomas, a player of the year candidate whom Eagles’ head coach Erik Johnson likened to “the LeBron James of the women’s game,” took over for No. 9 Maryland. She tallied 26 points, four assists, three steals, and two blocks in her 25 minutes on the court, as the Terrapins rolled to a 92-66 victory to sour the Eagles’ senior night.

Before the game, the Eagles’ last home matchup of the season, the team honored its two seniors, Kristen Doherty and Katie Zenevitch, at midcourt with flowers, framed jerseys, and a highlight video. Doherty, the Eagles’ leading scorer this year, averaging almost 13 points per game, is second all time in steals at BC, while Zenevitch, a player who Johnson says no one works harder than on a daily basis, ranks 17th in school history in scoring, 10th highest in single-season field goal percentage, and this season leads the team in rebounding and free throw percentage as well. Zenevitch, who was visibly hobbling during warm-ups after hurting her knee in practice days earlier, started the game after Johnson spoke with Maryland head coach Brenda Frese and arranged for the senior to call timeout after winning the opening tip so she could start and safely exit the game.

The Eagles put Thomas in foul trouble early in the first half and were able to keep the score close out of the gates, but soon found they would sorely miss Zenevitch’s presence, as her absence changed the dynamic of the game. On the offensive end, BC was unable to work the ball inside without its injured forward, enabling the Terps to stay out on the Eagles’ shooters and disrupt their entire offensive flow. But BC, a team that has lived and died by the three this season, shot 11 of 21 from behind the arc, which amounted to half of its offensive production on the night. Kat Cooper, Nicole Boudreau, and Kristen Doherty logged three triples each, and Kelly Hughes knocked down a pair of them as well.

A lack of quality shots inside limited BC from keeping pace with Maryland. The visitor’s larger stature enabled it to get its hands up on defense and block a lot of shots. On the defensive end, the Eagles were simply outmatched in the post, as time after time Terps’ guard Lexie Brown was able to lob the ball inside for an easy bucket.

When Thomas reentered the game with nine minutes to play in the first half, Maryland exploded offensively, going on a 14-2 run that was ignited by a harassing full-court press. The tactic led to fast break layups and open 3-pointers from the corner. Maryland took what was a one-point game and closed out the first half scoring 20 points to BC’s nine to head into the locker room with a comfortable 50-38 lead.

To the start the second half, Doherty walked over to inbound the ball while singing “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees along with the loudspeaker. The ref blew the whistle, and Doherty dished the ball to her point guard and got it right back before taking it to the rack for two of her 15 points on the night.

But then, the Terrapins started to pull away.

“Their transition game is one of the best that I’ve seen,” said Johnson. “Anytime we were a little bit lazy, or went for an offensive rebound and couldn’t get back in position, ‘bam,’ they were able to turn it into baskets.”

The Eagles were unable to keep up with the pure athleticism of the Terrapins, who outrebounded and outran BC en route to a convincing win.