Boston College women’s basketball started off the season very well, winning their first six games, but have since—as expected—found their conference opposition to be much tougher. The Eagles have dropped their last two in ACC play, with the latest setback a thorough defeat at the hands of No. 1 Notre Dame, 92-63.
BC (13-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast), which will take on Miami a week from Sunday, has lost its last two games by 20 or more points. It is moving in the opposite direction as the Irish (18-1, 6-0), who have only lost one game this season and are undefeated in the ACC. Here are three ups and three downs from the matchup.
1) Offensive Rebounding
One thing that the Eagles did well against the Irish was get second-chance opportunities on the offensive end, totaling 13 for the game. This has been a strength of the team all season, as they pace the ACC in offensive rebounds per game at 17.1. Freshman forward Taylor Soule led the way with three offensive rebounds and five overall, as she was able to find plenty of success inside off the bench. What’s frustrating for head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, though, is that although BC rebounded the ball well, the Irish were able to outmuscle them inside on the other end. Notre Dame did finish with two more offensive rebounds and nine more overall, tripling the Eagles in second-chance points, 25-8.
2) Middle Two Quarters
The Eagles lost the game in the first and fourth quarters, unquestionably. They gave up 32 points in the first quarter and scored only 19, putting them in a hole that they could not climb out of. The second and third quarters, on the other hand, were extremely close, as BC was only -4 overall. Also, aside from a 9-0 run by Notre Dame’s Martina Mabrey in the second quarter that stretched the lead to 20, the Eagles kept pace—in fact, they held a 31-26 edge when those few minutes of defensive complacency are ignored. While this seems like nitpicking because they were still in a negative point differential, it was still a good showing, considering the Irish are the top-ranked team in the country.
3) Taylor Soule
The aforementioned Soule had a monster game, despite the loss. Coming off the bench, Soule turned in an impressive performance, even though she did record four fouls. Soule piled up 18 points and three assists in 28 minutes of play, finishing -13, the best mark of any Eagles player that registered 20 or more minutes. She came into the game averaging only 7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds, but stepped up in a game that could have gotten ugly had she not had such a great performance.
1) 3-Point Shooting
The Eagles were absolutely abysmal from behind the arc, converting only 25 percent of their 3-point attempts on the day. For much of the season, BC had held its own on the perimeter, shooting at about 33 percent from distance, but it simply could not get enough deep balls to fall. This has been a troubling trend in recent games, as the Eagles haven’t reached the 33-percent mark in a game since Jan. 6 against North Carolina State. BC went just 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) in last week’s loss against Florida State—and all four of those 3-pointers came from Taylor Ortlepp, who managed just one against Notre Dame. Admittedly, the Irish played strong perimeter defense, but the team did not make the contested shots that they needed to to keep things closer with Notre Dame.
BC piled up 24 turnovers, a figure that makes it almost impossible to win any game, regardless of the opponent. Even more concerning is the fact that it was the second time in the past three games that the Eagles have cleared 20 turnovers—they committed 25 in a narrow win over Pittsburgh. Unnecessary difficult passes combined with the heavy pressure that the BC ball handlers faced made it extremely difficult for the team to run its offense and get open looks at the basket, forcing more passes from bad positions that were picked off easily. Freshman Marnelle Garraud in particular had a tough game, finishing with five turnovers. ACC play hasn’t been kind to Garraud, as she has 10 points and 14 turnovers in the last three games.
3) Foul Trouble
The Eagles hurt themselves, finishing the game with 21 personal fouls that lead to 21 free throw attempts for the Irish, of which they converted 76 percent. The biggest loss was when leading scorer Emma Guy fouled out of the game in the third quarter after playing only 18 minutes—she had eight points, well shy of her season average. Without her, Bernabe-McNamee had to juggle a rotation, and it didn’t help that Soule and Georgia Pineau each finished with four fouls. Against an opponent as talented as Notre Dame, BC cannot afford to give up free points or cost itself precious depth.
Featured Image by Robert Franklin / AP Photo