Eagles Lose Nailbiter to Penn State in ACC-Big Ten Challenge

The ACC-Big Ten challenge could not have been more adequately named. Boston College women’s basketball and Penn State battled down to the waning seconds, with neither team securing more than a seven-point lead at any point in the game. While the Eagles ultimately fell 60-56, they refused to give the Lady Lions an easy win and witnessed a career night from their sophomore star.

Penn State (5-2) took an early lead over BC (2-5) after making two consecutive 3-pointers, but the Eagles were quick to respond with two points and free throws. It took the first five minutes for the Eagles to find their footing, but they made sure to be vocal and communicate with each other, especially as they were faced with as tough a defense as Penn State. After Sierra Moore intercepted a pass by Georgia Pineau, she ran down the court with no opposition, leaving the Eagles to chase after her as she made an easy basket. But Mariella Fasoula established herself in the paint, giving the Eagles 10 points in the first quarter alone and pushing their lead to 19-13 entering the second.

The Eagles started the second quarter with Kelly Hughes taking a risky 3-pointer from the edge of the court. It paid off, and BC ran down the court with an even bigger advantage. The Eagles’ defense was tough for the Lady Lions to break through, and resulted in long pauses where they were unable to make a pass. Penn State continuously ran into traffic but were able to get some advantages as the BC players racked up the fouls. Consequently, the Eagles entered the locker room at halftime with only a one-point cushion of 31-30.

BC had a hard time in the third quarter, scoring only eight points to Penn State’s 15. The Lady Lions came into the frame aggressive, holding long possessions on BC’s end of the court. After Lindsey Spann was fouled shooting a 3-pointer, she went to the line for three free throws that tipped the scale in Penn State’s favor. The frustration was apparent on the Eagles’ faces as they were starting to miss simple shots and quickly falling behind after previously holding a large lead. They were determined to fight until the end and got a couple of points back at the tail end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter was so back and forth that it felt like even taking the time to blink would mean missing something important. While Moore was able to get an immediate bucket, the Eagles were determined to get their lead back. Pineau, Fasoula, and Hughes all made consecutive baskets, and with the gap between the two teams down to just two points, Penn State was forced to take a timeout.

With five minutes left, it was turning into a cat-and-mouse game. One team would get two points, but then the other would immediately counter with two of its own. It took two baskets by Fasoula and Pineau to tie up the game with two minutes left. Fasoula was the star of the game, totaling a career-high 29 points, more than half of BC’s game-ending total. Both Hughes and Penn State’s Peyton Whitted fouled out, but those setbacks weren’t going to stop either team from battling until the very end.

In the last minute of the game, it came down to free throws. Both Penn State and BC used up all of their allotted timeouts, and it came down to Kaliyah Mitchell at the charity stripe. She was able to make both free throws, giving the Lady Lions a four-point lead that solidified their victory.

Despite the result, head coach Erik Johnson wasn’t disappointed with how his team played.

“I cannot be more proud of the way that our team showed today,” Johnson said. “That’s the first time this year that I’ve watched from start to finish and fight, hustle, fight together, work hard. We made mistakes, we certainly had those chances to win that basketball game, but I’ll take that group of kids fighting together and fighting for the fans here at Conte Forum.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor