Football hasn’t won a bowl game since 2007. Men’s basketball hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2009, and men’s soccer is on the decline. The list goes on. Aside from hockey, most Boston College programs are in a rebuilding phase, and after two dismal seasons, BC women’s basketball finds itself squarely in the mix.
Early on in the season, the Eagles have a dominant win over a poor Boston University team, a solid road win at St. Mary’s, and a blowout loss to Stanford that gave them some much-needed experience against a top-notch program. But head coach Erik Johnson is still not satisfied, stressing that the team has a lot of work ahead as it tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
In their 73-56 home win over the Terriers on Thursday night, the Eagles showcased their defensive and high-energy style of play, but as Johnson warned, it’s easy to take too many positives out of a blowout win.
“I sort of have to step back in this picture of how far we’ve come, and give them credit for all the huge improvements they’ve made, but also then see how far we still have to go,” Johnson said.
After jumping out to a 24-6 lead midway through the first half, thanks to six steals and four blocks during that stretch, BC maintained a steady 14-16 point lead throughout the game and never let up.
With the game practically over from the start, Johnson was able to step back and analyze how the rebuilding process is coming along. All the smaller things—accountability, hustle and energy—that were preached in preseason were evident throughout the game.
From the tip-off, BC was all over BU defensively and stymied its offense all night long. Freshman Ashley Kelsick showcased her quick hands, while Karima Gabriel had a career day, swatting away lay-up attempt after lay-up attempt.
The depth in this team, a missing link in years past, has provided Johnson with every coach’s favorite problem: having too many players. The deep freshman class has made an immediate impact. Kelsick has stepped into the starting point guard role, while Martina Mosetti’s Italian flair has provided a nice complement. Down low, Katie Quandt has proved to be nearly unguardable at times.
Despite all these positives in a dominant performance, Johnson was quick to note the numerous mistakes that, if continued, will prevent BC from competing on a national level.
“If we want to win games at the highest level of the ACC, we can’t have the lapses and sloppy turnovers that we had,” Johnson said.
It’s up to Nicole Boudreau and Kelly Hughes to lead this team past careless play as it looks to exceed expectations.
“Chemistry has really been key,” Hughes said. “Giving up a good shot to find a better shot, that’s really what you’ve seen from us this year.”
Boudreau is an invaluable leader and mentor to the talented yet inexperienced freshmen. After Quandt did well to get post position but rushed her shot, which clanged off the backboard, Boudreau gave an encouraging gesture to calm down and get it next time. Later on, after Mosetti dished to Gabriel for a pretty and-one, Boudreau rushed to Mosetti, not Gabriel, to praise her for the smart assist.
Meanwhile, Hughes continues to be the constant on offense, once again leading the team in scoring with 16 points. Gabriel led the supporting cast with 11 points, five boards, and four blocks, while Kat Cooper chipped in with 10 points.
Many others played seized the opportunity to look good against the Terriers, and while one blowout win is nice, Johnson and the Eagles are still focused on the long term as they continue to rebuild.
“Hopefully the Eagles’ fans got a good look at why we are so excited about this team,” Johnson said. “But also a sense of how far we have to go.”
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff