Category Archives: Women’s Basketball

Virginia’s Stifling Defense Drops Eagles To Fourth Straight Loss

After coming off a tough conference defeat on Sunday—a 104-58 loss to the University of Notre Dame—the Boston College women’s basketball team (8-9, 0-4 ACC) could not come back and win in Charlottesville, as the University of Virginia Cavaliers (13-4, 3-1 ACC) came up on top on Thursday night by a final score of 68-56.

The BC and Virginia series has always been highly competitive, as the two teams have continued to trade wins the past three seasons in both the regular and postseason. Virginia has a 13-5 all-time record against BC, although the Eagles have won two of their last three encounters, including the 2014 regular season game at Conte Forum, 69-65. Virginia won the last meeting—the first round of the 2014 ACC Tournament, 74-59.

BC dominated the beginning of the first half, leading by nine points at a point, with a score of 21-13. This dominant streak was quickly diminished as the Cavaliers picked up the pace and scored three straight three-pointers in the last eight minutes of the half, allowing them to go into the second half with a 38-33 lead over the Eagles.

At first, UVA didn’t have the right flow or offensive rhythm. The Cavaliers had many missed opportunities to put points on the board—Virginia wasn’t taking shots or, if the team did, they were too rushed, resulting in missed layups. Overall, they needed to shoot with more confidence, something that they began to achieve more and more as the game progressed.

Virginia only made three of the attempted 17 shots from inside the paint, but went 10-16 from outside the paint to take the lead, 38-33 going into halftime.

A large portion of the Eagles’ scoring has come from outside the paint, where they average 8.5 three-pointers a game—the best in the ACC conference. However, they only made two of their seven attempts in the first half, with one missing the net entirely and another hitting the shot clock. Inside the paint was a different story as BC outscored UVA in the first half of the game 20-4.

UVA had 11 assists for 13 made baskets by the end of the half, whereas BC only had two assists for the same number of made baskets.

BC began to miss shots when Virginia started played harder defense on the Eagles: the Cavaliers had started the game playing too tall in defensive posture but saw improvements when they began to sit down and guard.

BC made 13-of-27 shots in the first half—with nine of those 13 shots being layups caused by some early steals and Virginia turnovers.

To start the second half, Virginia’s Faith Randolph hit a 3-pointer, inciting the Cavalier offense, A sophomore forward Sydney Umeri rebounded the ball and gave UVA its first double figure lead of the game, 48-37, with 13:36 remaining.

A layup by Kelly Hughes shortened the Virginia lead to five points, 48-43, then with 11 minutes left, but Breyana Mason responded by making a three. Hughes hit a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the game, making the score 61-54, but this was answered once again as Sarah Imovbioh put the Cavaliers’ lead back into the double figures. BC did force three UVA turnovers in the last four minutes of the ball game. BC had a number of missed opportunities but failed to ever close the point gap.

The Cavaliers can attribute their win the four players who ended the game in double figures—Faith Randolph, Mikayla Venson, Sarah Imovbion, and Breyana Mason—whereas the Eagles’ only player to score in double figures was Kelly Hughes with 14 points. Hughes led the Eagles with six rebounds, two assists, and a steal for the night.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

Eagles Infected By Notre Dame’s Dominating Offense

With flu season at hand, it seems everyone is fighting to stay healthy. Boston College women’s basketball headed to Indiana on Sunday to fight a virus of a different kind, No. 4 Notre Dame.

BC had an 0-9 record at Purcell Pavilion entering the game, but hoped for a different result this time around. The Eagles anticipated a challenge, as the Fighting Irish are the top offensive team in the ACC. BC put up its best fight but the infection proved too difficult, resulting in a 104-58 loss.

Right away, the Eagles struggled to break down the ND defense. The Fighting Irish stuck to BC players like glue. This allowed them to steal the ball and score transition baskets. Brianna Turner helped ND pull away, scoring five points in the first two minutes, and giving her team a 7-0 lead. It appeared the virus was going to infect the Eagles and spread fast.

Fortunately for the Eagles, freshman Ashley Kelsick scored to put her team on the board. BC’s defense continued to struggle to halt ND’s offense, allowing easy buckets for the Irish’s wide-open players. Kelsick and Nicole Boudreau each scored a 3-pointer to keep BC in the game early by a score of 17-13.

The Irish Virus kicked in on the Eagles’ offense after a shot clock violation sparked a 17-0 run for ND. Kelsick’s triple stopped the bleeding momentarily—however, the Fighting Irish still stretched their lead to a whopping 27 points.

Coach Erik Johnson was forced to call a timeout to see if BC could find a remedy for the bug that was infecting its game to little avail. The Eagles continued to miss rebounds, cause turnovers, and commit costly fouls. ND’s Hannah Huffman took advantage of BC’s miscues, making two steals that resulted in transition layups both times.

With two minutes left in the half, the Fighting Irish were up by 33. Jewell Lloyd rushed the ball down court and faced three BC defenders. She effortlessly dribbled past all of them and sunk her layup. Boudreau responded with a layup of her own to decrease the Irish’s lead with a score of 58-24.

In the first half, BC coughed up the ball nonstop, producing 16 turnovers. The struggle inside caused the team to make nine field goals, six of which were 3-pointers. This frustration resulted in 13 personal fouls in comparison to Notre Dame’s clean slate. To come over the 34-point defect, the Eagles needed to think things over and find a cure.

There seemed to be hope when Kelly Hughes came out in the second half and scored two threes, making it a 63-30 game. But ND sped up the pace and gained its biggest lead of the game with a 39-point edge.

The Eagles continued to battle hard but missed every attempted shot and were incapable of making it into the paint. Kat Cooper made two trips to the line and was able to make one foul shot in her second appearance. This ended ND’s 25-0 scoring streak, making it a 78-31 game

BC’s Karima Gabriel then made her first bucket of the day to complement her 10 rebounds. Emilee Daley and Hughes each made a 3-pointer but the Irish would not slow down their game. The Eagles continued to fight but with a 49-point deficit with eight minutes to go, it seemed like Notre Dame had taken over.

BC battled to the finish, but could not to stop ND from passing the 100-point mark. The Eagles were too late with their final run, but with 26 turnovers, a comeback never seemed obtainable. The Fighting Irish were too much for the Eagles to handle.

If the Eagles want to turn around their 0-3 conference record and compete in the ACC this season, they’ll have to quickly rebound from the painful loss.

Eagles Tame Wildcats In Hard-Fought Win

After a disappointing loss last week, the Boston College women’s basketball team looked to come back and win against the aggressive University of New Hampshire Wildcats on Sunday.

With both teams having a winning record, it was certain the game was going to be hard fought. Luckily for the Eagles, they were the ones to come out on top with a 64-58 victory.

UNH won the tip but the Eagles’ defense was strong and the Wildcats could not get the ball inside. BC turned the ball over on a travel but, after a blocked and stolen pass, senior Lauren Engeln was able to make a layup to give BC an early 2-0 lead.

Both teams maintained a fast pace and, after a layup by sophomore Kelly Hughes, the Eagles already looked like a different team from their last game.

After a short referee stoppage on the floor, BC’s defense came out strong, shutting down the UNH offense. Wildcat Kaylee Kilpatrick, however, found the holes and made it to the basket twice.

Freshman Ashley Kelsick made a major 3-pointer to make the score 11-8 BC with 13 minutes remaining in the half. With the rapid pace of play both teams answered the other’s shots but were unable to remain in control. Each side had elementary turnovers and committed multiple non-shooting fouls, which kept the scoring low.

Engeln put up a jump shot and a 3-pointer to give her team an 18-12 edge. UNH attempted to make a comeback with a 4-point run, but BC answered right away with 4 of its own.

UNH 1

The Eagles’ defense forced UNH to use the full shot clock three times towards the end of the half. This, combined with another 3-pointer by Kelsick, allowed BC to go into the locker rooms at halftime leading 31-26.

The UNH defense came out strong in the second half, forcing BC to eat up the shot clock. Freshman Katie Quandt was able to sneak in with four seconds left while drawing a foul to complete a 3-point play. Kilpatrick answered back and made a 3-pointer for the Wildcats.

The Eagles grabbed rebound after rebound, shutting down the UNH offense. “Our team rebounding is really important, especially on the defensive end, just limiting the other team to one possession, one shot each time down the floor,” said Hughes. With 15 minutes left, BC’s Martina Mosetti scored to make it 44-32, giving BC its biggest lead of the game. Kelly Hughes made a 3-pointer, while UNH struggled with their shooting.

The Eagles passing continued to be strong but the UNH defense suddenly became harder to break. This did not prevent Hughes and Kelsick from finding gaps, which allowed them each to make their jump shots.

UNH 3

UNH persevered, and with the help of Kilpatrick, got within four points of BC. After BC left Elizabeth Belarger wide open, the lead was only by two. It seemed as though the Eagles were going to throw away the game.

In the final minute, Hughes made a great grab off the board on the defensive end to gain back possession. She was immediately fouled and made UNH pay by making two free throws.

Coach Erik Johnson was satisfied with her play. “Hughes leads us in rebounding, she leads us in free throw shooting,” he said. “When she gets a board in the end of a key game and she’s the one they have to foul, it’s the best case scenario for us.”

Right after, Kelsick, and Nicole Boudreau were fouled and each made both of their foul shots. With this finishing push BC was able to capture a 64-58 win over UNH.

Hughes, Kelsick, and Boudreau all successfully scored in the double digits and were major factors to this win. It was this trio that gave the Eagles an edge. “We don’t have that one superstar,” said Hughes. “It takes a whole collective team effort every time we step on the floor.”

Johnson knows “We still had plenty of mistakes tonight but we fought hard enough,” he said. “We made enough good plays, we had enough good solid basketball to win a game down the stretch against a quality team.”

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff

Crossed Up: Eagles Can’t Handle Crusaders

The Boston College women’s basketball team traveled to the College of the Holy Cross Wednesday night for a classic Jesuit rivalry.

The Crusaders came into the game with a 1-7 record, seeming to guarantee a BC victory. This was not the case, however, as the Eagles struggled throughout the game against an energetic and aggressive Holy Cross team. After 16 consecutive losses against the Eagles, the Crusaders broke the losing streak with a convincing 80-64 win.

Holy Cross won the tip and scored first with a free throw shot by Raquel Scott. BC looked like it was scrambling from the start, missing several easy shots.

Sophomore Kelly Hughes, BC’s leading scorer, was face-guarded and struggled early on to get her hands on the ball. All of this, combined with Holy Cross’s high energy and ability to get inside, led BC to flounder on both sides of the court.

At the first media break, the Eagles trailed 12-4 and shot 20 percent from the field. They had no turnovers before the break, but accrued four in the next minute and a half.

Holy Cross managed to sink three 3-pointers in a row to make the score 30-8 with 10 minutes left in the half. It seemed as though every shot a Crusader put up fell in, while BC could not manage to pull it together.

Junior Nicole Boudreau tried to rally the team together when she made a 3-pointer. The Eagles cut the Holy Cross lead from 25 to 15 and went to the locker rooms at halftime losing 51-36.

The second half did not appear to be any improvement from the first. Holy Cross came out and scored right away. BC’s struggles continued but it was evident that they had more energy and aggression.

But this energy did not help them. The team went almost six minutes without scoring until Boudreau made a layup with 13:14 left. At this point, BC regrouped and made a slight comeback. The team moved the ball faster and halted the Holy Cross offense. With 3:23 left in the game, the Eagles’ play became sloppy once again.

After an aggressive steal, BC threw away the ball—another detrimental turnover. The Crusaders scored 23 points off the Eagles’ 15 turnovers. Holy Cross fought down to the last second and were relentless. The Eagles could not put up a fight.

Boudreau was BC’s leading scorer with 24 points, but Holy Cross’s Raquel Scott tallied 26 and Lisa Misfud was close behind with 23. The Eagles’ bench had 26 points, but with low shooting percentages and 15 turnovers, the team could not come close enough to threatening Holy Cross.

The Eagles looked like a completely different team Wednesday. In order to have a successful season they may have to go back to the drawing board.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Highs And Lows For Hughes And Company

The Boston College women’s basketball team headed to Hartford on Sunday to play the Hawks. Looking to redeem themselves after Wednesday’s loss to Indiana University, the Eagles successfully brought home a 73-61 win, bringing their record to 5-5.

The Hawks won the tip and tried to come out strong at the start of the first half. After a foul call, Cherelle Moore went to the line and made both of her foul shots, giving Hartford the first lead of the game. Hartford’s defense was solid, making it hard for BC to get a shot off. The team used a 1-2-2 zone press that caught BC off guard. The press caused the Eagles to call an early timeout.

The Eagles came out of the timeout with determination. Junior Nicole Boudreau made a 3-pointer and BC gained its first lead of the game, 8-7. The Eagles were aggressive in the way they attacked the basket and their quick ball movement helped to break down the Hawks’ defense. Hartford struggled against BC’s 2-3 defensive zone, allowing the Eagles to go on a 19-3 run with the help of eight straight points from Kat Cooper, making the score 23-13.

This lead caused the Hawks to change to a 2-1-2 zone, which still proved to be little challenge for the Eagles. BC took advantage of every opportunity and managed to increase its lead to 14 points. The team’s 2-3 zone still proved to be strong and the Hawks struggled to score.

With less than three minutes left, Hartford and BC went through a 3-point war, each answering the other. BC was able to fight, however, and increase its lead to 18. Hawks’ Amber Bepko scored a buzzer beater 3-pointer, making the score 45-30 BC going into halftime.

After the break, Hartford’s defense still proved to be weak, allowing BC to easily make layup after layup. The Eagles decided to slow down the pace to maintain their control of the game, but the Hawks took advantage of this and decreased its deficit to 10 points.

BC easily bounced back though, scoring five points in 20 seconds to bump its lead up to 15 points. Much of the rest of the half was dictated by foul shots, since both sides racked up team fouls early on.

Late in the game, the Hawks intercepted a poor BC pass and Deanna Mayza hit a 3-pointer, decreasing BC’s lead to only nine points with 2:30 left. Cooper yet again answered back and the Eagles closed the game with a score of 73-61.

Sophomore guard Kelly Hughes continued to be BC’s biggest threat. She had a double-double, scoring 22 points, making six out of 12 3-pointers, and snagging 11 rebounds.

Earlier in the week, Hughes led BC with ten points and eight rebounds in a loss to the Indiana Hoosiers 76-67 on Dec. 3. The Eagles struggled from the start, allowed the Hoosiers to gain an early lead, and were unable to ever claw their way back.

With a 37.5 percent shooting accuracy, BC was unable to get a lot of offense going in the first half. However, the team came out stronger after halftime and improved overall, bumping its field goal accuracy to 50 percent.

With 1:10 left in the game, the Eagles cut the Hoosier lead to only eight points, but Indiana’s Tyra Buss sank two free throws to secure the victory.

With a .500 record a month into the season, the Eagles have showed the resolve to finish off teams like Hartford, but have been lacking offensive consistency in losses to the likes of Indiana.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin/Heights Editor

Kelly Hughes, Katie Quandt Lead BC To Win Over Bryant

“[This game had] the most disparate rebounding numbers I’ve ever seen from half to half.”

In that sentence, Boston College women’s basketball head coach Erik Johnson summed up a game that didn’t look like just one game. By the numbers: BC outrebounded Bryant 23-12 in the first half. In the second half, Bryant led 29-14. In the first half, each team had six second-chance points, while BC led in the paint 24-12. In the second half, Bryant racked up 24 second-chance points compared to five for BC, while the Bulldogs also led the battle down low, 18-12.

Of course, only one statistic matters in the end. BC kept that one firmly in its favor all game as the team picked up its third win of the year, knocking off Bryant 90-79 on Sunday.

During BC’s stretch of dominance under the rim, the story was Katie Quandt. The 6-foot-4 freshman, who came into game with 15 career points in her first three games, put up 16 points inside for the Eagles, including 10 in the first half. For a team that prides itself on its ability to shoot 3-pointers, BC only took eight in the first 20 minutes, riding Quandt and fellow center Karima Gabriel on its way to a 12-point lead at halftime.

At the beginning of the second half, things changed. Bryant came out running a full-court press, which stymied BC’s offense, forced two quick turnovers and compelled Johnson to take a timeout.

“When someone presses you that hasn’t been pressing you, you’re used to having space,” Johnson said. “We just went backwards, away from the basketball. We do a drill that’s exactly that, where we get trapped and we work on squaring up strong and being aggressive. Once we did that, we got through the trap, reversed the ball, and got wide-open threes on the back side.”

Three open threes in under three minutes, to be exact—all coming from Kelly Hughes. After a quiet first half, she exploded in the second frame, finishing with 23 points on five-of-10 shooting, five-of-eight from beyond the arc and eight-of-eight from the line. Hughes was one rebound shy of a double-double while also tagging on five assists, two blocks, and a steal.

Johnson lauded his second-year guard.

“She’s had a very good year already,” he said. “Kelly can shoot from anywhere in the building. If she has any kind of look, I want her shooting it.”

Bryant, meanwhile, relied on a trio of starters, Jenniqua Bailey, Tiersa Winder, and Breanna Rucker, to generate offense.

The three combined for 65 of the team’s 79 points, with Rucker leading all players with 25 points and 16 rebounds. BC’s bench, led by Quandt, overcame the trio’s performances to outscore Bryant’s bench, 22-5.

Although Johnson understands the challenges his team will face in the near future, he was pleased with the win. “It was a great test for us,” he said. “Will the ACC be even bigger and more athletic? Yes. But that style will be exactly what we have to face. This was a great game for us.”

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff

BC Keeps Building With Dominant Win Over BU

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

Women’s Basketball Splits Weekend West Coast Swing

The Boston College women’s basketball team had an up and down weekend to kick off the 2014-15 season, falling to Stanford on Friday but rebounding nicely by defeating St. Mary’s two days later. The Eagles began their season with a road trip and a matchup with the No. 6 Stanford. After playing them close for much of the first half, the Cardinals’ Lili Thompson & Co. eventually proved too much for the Eagles to handle, as they were stifled for the remainder of the game. Thompson scored a career-high 26 points and led her team to a 96-63 victory.

Emilee Dailey was a bright spot for BC, contributing a team-high 13 points in the losing effort. The stat sheet clearly reflected the outcome, as Stanford shot a blistering 64.9 percent from the field, including 53.8 percent from 3-point range.

BC bounced back on Sunday with an 82-72 win over St. Mary’s. The Eagles’ crisp passing and excellent ball movement led to a barrage of open 3-pointers. The opening 10 minutes of the game clearly displayed a contrast in style of play, as the Gaels used their dribble penetration to get points in the paint, while the Eagles whipped the ball around the perimeter in pursuit of clean outside looks. Both sides traded baskets throughout the first half, which ended with a three-point St. Mary’s advantage.

The second half followed the same pattern, until BC rattled off a 10-0 run with about four minutes remaining. Guard Ashley Kelsick began the onslaught with a breakaway steal and layup to cut the Gaels’ lead to two. Junior guard and BC captain Nicole Boudreau gave the Eagles their first lead of the second half a couple plays later with a 3-pointer. BC maintained its advantage as the Gaels fought and clawed their way to points in the few remaining minutes, but were finally put away by Kelly Hughes’ dagger three with only 45 seconds remaining.

With solid composure and stout defense, the Eagles extended their lead to 10 as the final horn sounded. BC looks to build on Sunday’s victory in its home opener against Boston University this Thursday.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Johnson’s Eagles Are Loaded With Talent And In It Together

Erik Johnson stands motionless at the back of the weight room, watching over his team’s preseason lift session and taking in the energy around him. The head coach does not need to say or do anything, as the 15 girls pump themselves up and jam out from song to song as they work out, completely unaware of their coach’s presence.

This scene presents a stark contrast to the recent teams that Johnson has coached.

“The difference was, in the last couple of years, the coaching staff had to be the energy,” Johnson said. “I was the one pumping them up and pushing them. We had to be the impetus.”

This year, the Boston College women’s basketball team, led by junior captain Nicole Boudreau and sophomore Kelly Hughes, looks to rebuild and establish a new culture by focusing on the little things and stressing accountability.

“We didn’t hold ourselves accountable as much as we should have last year, and that’s really what Coach Johnson has been harping on,” Hughes said. “We need to build in ourselves to not let anything go by the wayside.”

Boudreau, the sole captain, agrees that accountability is the foundation of this year’s team.

“First of all, I need to hold myself accountable. And once I hold myself to a high standard, I try to get everyone on board with me and encourage them and give them as much feedback as possible,” she said.

Even on fan day, Johnson stops the crowd-pleasing scrimmage to once more emphasize the importance of all the little things. He does not seem to care at all about their struggles with the press or try to analyze their motion offense. Instead, Johnson brings his team into the huddle and calls them out for laziness in transition and lack of communication on both ends.

Two sprints, down the court and back, follow.

There are times when Johnson has to refocus his team, but overall, his job has been made much easier this year.

The players have taken it upon themselves to know when practice is and to ice and stretch properly after games, without having to be told by the coaching staff.

This may seem pretty standard, but part of the struggles in past seasons can be attributed to a lack of accountability.

When introducing his team to the fans, Johnson makes it clear that there is a big difference between a team that goes through the motions because the players have to, and a team that does things for itself. Before handing over the floor to his players, he emphasizes that this team works hard and finishes every sprint not because he forces the players to, but because they want to.

A key factor in the implementation of this new team culture has been an offseason leadership and team-building program, which the Eagles have participated in during the last two summers. Led by former special-ops soldiers from the armed forces, “The Program” develops leaders and builds team unity through shared adversity in the form of mentally and physically arduous tasks.

Responsibility and mentorship often get overlooked in the high-octane world of Division I sports, where individual talent reigns supreme, but BC has gone back to these fundamentals provided by The Program’s training regimen.

Johnson stops another drill to deliver a quick message.

“Don’t overthink it,” he said. “This is what we do in basketball. We sprint our ass back.”

Johnson stressed that once the little things are ingrained in the players’ minds and they can bring the hustle day in and day out, then the Eagles can start focusing on strategy and getting better.

As far as that goes, the offensive firepower of Boudreau and Hughes will be the focus and spark of BC’s offense.

Bursting onto the scene last year as a freshman, Hughes led the Eagles in scoring and finished 17th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage. Armed with a lethal jump-shot and impressive range, Hughes has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor.

Boudreau, a two-year starter, has an eye for the killer pass, leading the team in assists last year. That’s not to say that she can’t score, though, as she was right behind Hughes in points per game. Her all-around game has been a staple in BC’s offense during her freshman and sophomore campaigns, and she will again be the focal point of the backcourt.

“Boudreau to Hughes,” as the captain finds a cutting Hughes for a smooth reverse lay-up, will be a familiar sight for fans this year.

Not only will BC seek to benefit from its new culture, but for the first time since the beginning of last season, it will have a full team. By the end of 2013-14, the Eagles only had nine healthy players, with seven or so playing regularly.

This year, six new faces—five freshmen and a transfer—join the nine returning players to round out a deep squad. Kailey Edwards, a transfer who was recruited by Johnson and his staff at Denver University, will sit out this season, however.

“We have been using our depth for increased competitiveness and intensity,” Johnson said. “We get after it because there is playing time on the line.”

Players and coaches alike agree that the number one goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament, and that starts with making some noise in the ACC—undoubtedly the toughest conference in women’s basketball.

After going 3-13 in conference play and losing to Virginia in the first round of the ACC tournament, the added depth will allow BC to compete with the likes of North Carolina, Duke, and Notre Dame in a stacked conference.

“We can play at a higher octane because we are not pacing ourselves,” Johnson said. “I can shuttle people in and out of the game much more quickly, and they can play harder for shorter stretches.”

Not only does the freshman class provide much-needed depth, but it brings new positions to the team as well.

Lacking any true point guards or post players last year, BC played mostly at the perimeter, desperately relying on the outside shooting of Boudreau and Hughes. As a result, the Eagles were unable to generate much offense against better teams.

Martina Mosetti, Ashley Kelsick, and Rachel Gartner are all looking to earn minutes at the point, while Katie Quandt, the tallest on the team at 6-foot-3, provides an inside presence. Ella Awobajo, a versatile player who can play either guard or forward, will also be vying for playing time.

“Not only are the new people going to have to step up, but I think our returning players are coming back stronger,” Boudreau said. “Everyone is going upwards in their skillsets and what they’re comfortable doing.”

Lauren Engeln, Kat Cooper, and Alexa Coulombe lead a much improved group of core players who will see expanded roles this year and battle with the freshman class for playing time.

Such high competition on a big team oftentimes leads to players butting heads, but Johnson and his staff have made it their priority to make sure that the team comes first.

Engeln, a returning starter and one of only two seniors on this young squad, is relishing the opportunity to become a leader and go out with a bang in her last season.

She will benefit the most from this year’s depth after being forced into an unfamiliar point guard role at the end of last season.

“I’m stoked to definitely take on that leadership role,” Engeln said. “Probably the biggest thing right now is knowing that you can take the freshmen aside and tell them that you’ve been through what they’re going through.”

Johnson takes his time to explain a continuous 3-on-2 drill with two teams, emphasizing the fact that one point will be deducted for not sprinting back. A few drills later, a steaming Johnson again stops free throw practice to chew out his team for selfishness, and his message is simple.

His squad has a choice: the players can complain, fall apart, and scrape through practice, or they can fix something and work together to get better.

So far this year, his team has chosen the latter.

“Our culture has gotten a whole lot better,” Boudreau said. “We trust each other, and that’s what makes us good.”

Replacing the production of last year’s captains Katie Zenevitch and Rachel Doherty will be a tough task for the Eagles, but this deep and well-rounded team looks determined and talented.

“The next step is just preparing for Stanford and also our very competitive ACC schedule, practicing like we don’t belong at the bottom of the ACC poll, and proving people wrong and finishing nowhere near the bottom,” Hughes said.

More importantly, the Eagles have been working hard to create something different, something that goes beyond the plays drawn up on whiteboards and the preseason polls.

With a newfound belief in each other and an attitude of togetherness, the Eagles have what it takes to exceed expectations this year, but with such a young squad, it will be an uphill battle.

One word, echoing around Power Gym after every huddle sums up this team’s willingness to take on the challenge: “Together.”

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Bump In The Road

Sixteen minutes remained in the game when Kelly Hughes made her second 3-pointer, reducing No. 9 UNC’s lead over the Boston College women’s basketball team to six points. With two possessions separating the squads, and with some time still left in the half, BC seemed poised to compete with one of the most prolific offenses in the ACC.

Instead, UNC widened the extant gap, thwarting BC’s attempts at making a comeback with responsive offensive plays and intense defensive pressure. Over the course of those last 16 minutes, the 6-point deficit—caused by Hughes’ shot—expanded into a 17-point one, as UNC secured a 73-56 victory over hapless BC.

In spite of the final score, the contest was relatively close through the first half and into the second, up until the collapse. Early in the game, the teams struggled on both the offensive and defensive ends, keeping the scores close.

UNC’s offense seemed to be in flux. At points, the squad’s attack seemed uninhibited—with players driving and scoring at will. One such player was freshman guard Diamond DeShields, who grabbed an offensive rebound, collected an assist, and scored seven points within three minutes’ time. However, at other points, UNC’s play came across as lethargic: the squad once turned over the ball on a shot clock violation, completely unaware that time was winding down.

While UNC bounded between scoring sprees and stasis, BC consistently failed to score from beyond the perimeter— an offensive staple for the team. Sophomore guard Nicole Boudreau, who helped BC win against Miami with solid long-range shooting, could not score, missing her three 3-point attempts. Hughes also had difficulty in the beginning, making only one of her four shots from beyond the arc. By halftime, the squad had made only one of its 10 3-point attempts: 10 percent of its shots from outside.

Additionally, the team could not prevent UNC from recovering its missed shots, as the opposing players collected 10 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.

“Our box outs have been solid,” BC assistant coach Yvonne Hawkins said at halftime. “They’re coming up with some loose ball [recoveries].”

Though the team struggled with both long-range shooting and defensive rebounding in the first half, decent mid-range shooting kept UNC from pulling away with the lead. Forward Kristen Doherty made three of six shots—acting as a consistent offensive threat—and center Katie Zenevitch made two jump shots.

By the conclusion of the first half, largely because of second chance opportunities, UNC led BC by seven points, 32-25. But the deficit would grow much larger during the second half, as BC struggled to overcome its shooting woes and UNC’s offensive spurts paired with stellar defense.

While the team’s 3-point shooting significantly improved—because of Hughes, who made three of four outside shots during the half—the squad’s inside and mid-range shooting declined. UNC clogged passing lanes and established a formidable defensive presence. Faced with this pressure, BC faltered: Doherty and Zenevitch were particularly impacted, making a combined three of 11 shots in the final 20 minutes.

“When it came time to get a score, we just couldn’t get to the rim,” BC head coach Erik Johnson said after the game. “[And when] we could get by them … we couldn’t [finish].”

While BC struggled to make shots, UNC surged offensively: Forward Xylina McDaniel made three of four field goals and—after drawing fouls—made six free throws, scoring 12 points in the second half. Brittany Rountree, who scored no points in the first half, contributed a decisive boost— scoring five points within a minute’s time.

Consistency accompanied the surge. Guard Allisha Gray, who scored 10 points in the first half, contributed an additional six points in the second— making two of four 3-point shots.

Over the course of the final 20 minutes, UNC scored 41 points. As a whole, the team made 11 of 24 field goals in the second half for a field goal percentage of nearly 46 percent. Comparatively, BC scored 29 points, making nine of 28 field goals, approximately 32 percent of its shots.

Despite falling behind in the second half and losing 73-56 to UNC, BC exhibited some decent play. The team held a UNC team that averaged 85 points per game to a dozen points below its typical final score and vied with a top-ranked team through the first half. Additionally, the squad won—albeit barely—the turnover game against UNC, a team that leads the ACC in the steals per game category with 12.9.

But BC did come up short, performing inconsistently. Three-point shooting proved a major concern. Over the course of the season, Boudreau and Hughes have combined for 81 3-pointers, but the two sharpshooters have struggled to score against top-tier competitors. Against No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Duke, No. 3 Stanford, and No. 9 UNC, Boudreau and Hughes made nine 3-pointers in 39 attempts. Additionally, size disadvantages have been a factor: UNC’s 6-foot-3 forward Stephanie Mavunga and 6-foot-2 McDaniel, who combined for four blocks in the previous game, were able to stifle BC’s inside game.

But Johnson believes that an answer will come for these troubles: an answer that develops more and more with each passing game— even the losses.

“This is how you build a program,” Johnson said. “We need to get deeper, you need to build experience, and it all starts right here.”