As a No. 15 seed in its conference tournament, the Boston College women’s basketball team had to pull off a miracle run in Greensboro to get into the NCAA Tournament.
While the Eagles got off to a hot start against Virginia in the ACC Tournament’s first round, they were defeated, 74-59, by a dominant Cavalier offense.
After just four minutes of play, each team had put nine points up on the board. Kelly Hughes knocked down a three from the corner to contribute to the Eagles’ fast start. But the Eagles quickly went cold from the field. Lauren Engeln’s layup, with 16:10 remaining in the half, was the last bucket head coach Erik Johnson’s team could muster until the redshirt junior was able to hit a jumper nearly 10 minutes of play later.
With the Eagles going almost half of the period without a basket, Virginia, the tournament’s No. 10 seed, was able to build an advantage. A 12-0 run from the Cavaliers put the Eagles down early, but the underdogs fought back. Nine straight points from BC pulled it within three of the Cavaliers after the first half’s midway point.
Turnovers hindered the Eagles. They turned the ball over eight times in the first 10 minutes of the game, giving the Cavaliers the chance to build their lead. A low possession team like the Eagles needs to capitalize each time it gets down the floor, and not doing so cost them.
The Eagles were able to force their opponents to make errors before the intermission, as UVa turned the ball over eight times before the half came to a close.
Kat Cooper knocked down a three from the corner, but then the Cavaliers’ leading scorer, Ataira Franklin got hot. She failed to score until 3:33 remained in the first half, but nailed two more triples before the frame was up, including one to beat the buzzer. Her play sent Virginia into the intermission with a seven-point advantage. Franklin finished with 23 points.
In the paint, senior Katie Zenevitch battled with Cavalier forward Sarah Imovbioh. The two scrapped for position in the lane throughout the matchup. When Virginia’s junior was not in UVa’s lineup, BC’s senior leader demanded the ball whenever she was mismatched with a guard. Zenevitch was able to lead her team in scoring with 14 points. She shot seven of 13 from the field in her 29 minutes on the floor.
The Eagles were without senior Kristen Doherty, who missed the game due to illness. Johnson’s team could have used her scoring and rebounding abilities. Doherty averaged three assists, just under 13 points, and 5.8 rebounds, when she played this season.
Without Doherty’s presence down low, BC struggled to find its way on the glass. Virginia outrebounded the Eagles 37-24, and 13 of those rebounds came on the Cavaliers’ offensive end.
Second-chance points were not where the game was decided though, because Virginia shot the ball well from range, especially in the second half. As a team, the `Hoos finished with nine triples, even though they average about five from the behind the arc per game. Shooting from distance was huge for Virginia, which used ball movement to stretch and stress BC’s zone defense.
While the Eagles would comeback in short spurts, Virginia would always be able to get a stop to thwart a run.
The loss takes the Eagles out of the ACC Tournament and ends a season that looked promising. BC won seven straight games heading into its conference schedule. Defeats to No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Duke put the Eagles down, but they recovered with a win against Miami. Beating only Virginia in the final month of their season, the Eagles lost 12 of their last 13 games.