Dribble. Dribble. Pump fake. Shot. STUFFED.
Karima Gabriel made a smashing block that echoed through Conte Forum to deny Ivey Slaughter access to the hoop. She denied the Seminoles at the rim not once, not twice, but five times. Along with five steals and six rebounds, Gabriel single-handedly shut down part of the No. 9 Florida State University offense, but the Boston College Eagles (12-15, 4-10 ACC) fell to Seminoles (25-3, 12-2 ACC) by a score of 86-68.
To open the game, FSU won the tip-off and stormed down the court. Center Adut Bulgak made an easy layup for the Seminoles to put them on the board first. It was evident that BC had holes in its defense as FSU got inside the paint on every possession.
Both sides maintained a fast pace so the defenses did not have time to set up. In order to slow down their opponents, the Eagles were forced to be extremely aggressive. Because of their overzealous defense, Katie Quandt was sent to the bench after committing two fouls in the first three minutes.
With the starting center taking a seat, it was Gabriel’s turn to step up to the plate. On the defensive end, she was a solid force, but her aggressive nature also put her in trouble early. After she committed two fouls in the first seven minutes of the game, head coach Erik Johnson was forced to rotate between his two centers.
BC’s offense remained quiet until Kelly Hughes’s offensive rebound led to a 3-point play by Nicole Boudreau. Seconds later, the Eagles made their way down the court. Boudreau sent a behind-the-back bounce pass to Ashley Kelsick, who broke inside to make a layup—but the Eagles still trailed 26-12.
The Seminoles did not relent, and Boudreau commended their talent. “When [BC] would drive, there would be someone there,” Boudreau said. “Their rotations were really crisp every single play, every single time they were on the floor.”
BC fought to find its opponents’ weakness but poor passes plagued the team, along with elementary turnovers. When the Eagles were able to safely bring the ball close to the basket, their shots consistently rimmed out or banked off the backboard.
The Eagles exploded with less than a minute left in the first half. Boudreau made a triple with three seconds on the shot clock, causing Conte to erupt. After an FSU miss and a Gabriel rebound, Boudreau was able to sink a buzzer beating 3-pointer to send the Eagles into the locker room trailing 45-29.
With a shooting percentage of 32.4, it was clear BC needed to make some adjustments if they wanted to compete with the Seminoles, who were shooting at 69.2 percent.
“I asked them in the locker room, ‘What’s the difference between where we are and where we need to be?’” Johnson said. “It’s not just spectacular athleticism or amazing shooting. We have the talent. It is just some of those discipline issues and some of those consistency issues and things like that.”
The Eagles cleaned up their game and were able to come out hot in order to close in on the FSU lead. Hughes knocked down a three to open the half, good for her first points of the game. After a Boudreau steal and Gabriel rebound, Hughes hit another jumper to bring the Eagles within 11. BC’s defense was strong and swarmed the ball, causing the Seminoles to miss shots. A few minutes later Hughes hit two 3-pointers to bring her team within eight.
Both sides exchanged 3-pointers, answering one after the next. The Seminoles tried to break away but Hughes made two shots at the charity stripe and Kelsick sunk a 3-pointer to make the score 66-54. Soon after, Bulgak was sent to the bench after committing her fourth foul. This seemed like good news for the Eagles, since Bulgak scored 19 of her team’s points.
Emilee Daley made a 3-pointer but Leticia Romero had no problem making one of her own on the other end. After a timeout, FSU decided to pressure the 3-point line. The Eagles struggled to get clear shots but Daley snuck into the corner and hit a triple with one minute left. Even with Hughes’s 16 points, Gabriel’s three steals, and Daley’s three triples, BC failed to make a comeback. Although they struggled hard against a tough BC defense in the second half, the Seminoles were able to walk away with an 86-68 win.
Despite the loss, Johnson continues to remain positive and look forward to contending with more tough ACC competition.
“We love it. This is what we all signed up for … this is what gets us fired up. It forces you to be you’re best,” Johnson said. “We weren’t afraid of a top 10 team. I thought we came roaring back and really showed that we can play at the highest level. We just need to be more consistent.”
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor