Kelly Hughes gets up from her seated position and reaches for her crutches. She props herself up and explains to a reporter how a Wake Forest player caught her heel and ended her season nine minutes before the rest of the team.
Wake Forest knocked the Boston College women’s basketball team out in the first round of the ACC Tournament, 69-53. Hughes had beaten Wake Forest before—a dramatic 75-74 regular season matchup where the sophomore guard scored 32 points—but the second time proved to be a different story.
“I think it was an up and down year,” Hughes said, citing her team’s upset of No. 13 Duke, among others, but ultimately pulling away from the season with a losing record and no tournament slot. Her injury—and inability to finish out the last game of the season—was the ultimate “down” for Hughes.
She hopes to be back on the court in six weeks to work with an optimistically young team that looks to leave behind the turbulent 2014-15 season and prepare for next year.
BC began the season with a strong run, grabbing more wins than losses in non-conference play, with a schedule that included tough games against Stanford and Indiana. The Eagles won neither of these big contests, though—and lost against Maine, Hofstra, and Holy Cross too. They entered ACC conference play with the same record as last year: 8-5.
But in the Eagles’ first five ACC games, they showed that they did not necessarily have all of the pieces together. In the face of the many big, physical, athletic, and talented players in the ACC, BC fell short with five straight losses. Most of the games were not even close. Notre Dame routed BC 104-58 and Syracuse bested the Eagles 64-46. Even when the team began to pull out wins, the score line was not dominating. The Eagles squeaked out wins against Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, NC State, and Duke, and they won each of these by five points or less.
Discounting the lack of recruiting clout and serious height, you find out some of why the Eagles had a lackluster season within their lineups.
The starters switched from game to game, with no absolute starting five. The lineup looked best with something like Marti Mosetti, Ashley Kelsick, and Hughes at guard, Emilee Daley at forward, and Katie Quandt at center. Nicole Boudreau and Shayra Brown also got a number of starting nods. Hughes was really the only mainstay in a side that switched around constantly, trying to find just the right chemistry. Hughes admitted that she found it hard to find a certain rhythm when the four other players were in flux.
Additionally, the starting lineup consistently featured two or three freshmen, two sophomores, and at most one upperclassman.
Hughes built upon what was a good last season, earning herself an ACC Player Of The Week nomination and scoring the most points of any BC women’s basketball player since 2011 in the regular season game at Wake Forest. She established herself as a leader on this young team.
“Obviously, we lost Kristen [Doherty] and Katie [Zenevitch] from last year’s team, who were two of our biggest contributors,” Hughes said. “So, we needed someone to step up and replace them … my coaches and assistant coaches trusting in me that they knew I had the potential.”
Perhaps the most turbulent event of the season was a number of suspensions in early February, when one player, Lauren Engeln, was dismissed from the team. Head coach Erik Johnson only revealed that these came about from violations of team rules, but the disciplinary action solely affected upperclassmen, and shook up the starting lineups even more.
But this young lineup is what makes this year’s somewhat disappointing year so exciting. The team will continue to have its core group of players, many who still have a lot of time to develop their skills further.
With Kelsick’s athleticism, Mosetti’s technical ability, Daley’s all-around ability, Hughes’ shooting, and the continued development of Quandt into a strong player in the post, the Eagles could field a very formidable team next year. As Hughes said, its just a matter of having the right mindset and team chemistry.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff