Boston College women’s basketball forward Emma Guy recorded a career-high 15 rebounds and matched her best scoring performance as an Eagle on Thursday night against Clemson, racking up 14 points. But her double-double wasn’t enough to bring BC all the way back from the grave. After scoring just four points in the second quarter, the Eagles rallied to force double-overtime, but fell short in the end, 65-61.
BC (6-12, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) shot just 32.8 percent from the field and turned the ball over 23 times. The Tigers’ (11-8, 1-5) defense completely stifled the Eagles, limiting them to 2-of-12 shooting in the second frame. As a whole, Clemson recorded four blocks and kept a typically solid 3-point shooting Eagles team under 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Defensively, the matchup was anything but one-sided. BC played some of its best defense of the season, holding the Tigers to 40 percent from the floor and 14 percent from downtown. To go along with Guy’s breakout numbers, Milan Bolden-Morris—the team’s leading scorer—put up 17 points, even though she struggled with her shot at times, and Georgia Pineau tacked on 13 points and eight rebounds to keep the the Eagles in the game. BC only forced 10 turnovers, but Clemson failed to put the game out of reach, despite the Eagles’ scoring struggles.
It has been difficult for BC to win games when its two best shooters, Bolden-Morris and Taylor Ortlepp—who were a combined 7-of-27 from the field on Thursday night—can’t seem to find their rhythm. The Eagles came about as close as they possibly against the Tigers—the game was tied at 14 after the first quarter, 39 after the third, 47 after the fourth, and 55 after overtime. Where BC went wrong was the second quarter. The Eagles were outscored, 13-4, in the period, and entered the half trailing by nine. BC worked its way back into the game by upping the ante on the defensive end of the court for the rest of regulation.
Clemson, on the other hand, isn’t a particularly strong offensive squad. Its strength is its defense, and it showed in the final score. The Eagles have only won a single game—against New Hampshire on Dec. 17—without reaching the 70-point mark. The only moment of the game where BC looked as if it might even come close to that total without overtime was the third quarter: the Eagles flew out of the gates to start the second half, putting up 21 points in the frame to tie the game up against what had been, to that point, an unbreakable Tiger defense. BC opened the floor up by running the ball through Bolden-Morris more often and abandoning its typical reliance on the 3-pointer. Pineau and Andie Anastos each scored four points, and Bolden-Morris logged five to jumpstart the offense.
On the other end of the floor, the Eagles got revenge for their five-minute scoreless drought, holding Clemson to just three points in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The game was completely turned on its head, going from a slow-moving defensive slugfest to a more free-wheeling affair.
That spark died in the fourth quarter, as both teams locked each other down. Only eight points were scored by both sides, and each team put the ball through the net once in the final five minutes of the period. Anastos hit a 3-pointer to give BC its first lead since the first quarter with just under four minutes remaining, and Clemson forward Kobi Thornton hit a jumper in the lane with 99 seconds left to tie the game—that was all either team could squeeze in.
Overtime provided much more activity: it was back-and-forth early as Pineau traded layups with Tiger Alexis Carter, and Guy swapped baskets with Danielle Edwards late in the extra frame to keep the game tied, but the most dramatic moment belonged to Thornton. The sophomore, who ended up with a loud 16-and-10 alongside two blocks, three steals, and an all-around excellent effort defending the rim, came down with an offensive rebound with seconds remaining in the first overtime. She quickly rose back up to put the game-winning basket home, but was too strong on the shot, sending the game to double overtime.
Ortlepp came out firing like her old self, scoring six of her eight points on two 3-pointers that ripped through the net a minute apart, but her late surge would be all for naught. Edwards hit a triple to give Clemson a one-point lead with a minute and a half to go, then Ortlepp missed her own long-range attempt, and Guy couldn’t turn her offensive rebound into anything, thanks to Thornton’s stingy defense. Forced to foul, BC couldn’t get itself back in the game.
Bolden-Morris played the full 50 minutes in the loss, and the Eagles fell even further off the map in the ACC. They remain above Clemson in the conference standings, but sit 12th overall. BC appears to be lucky to be that high: the ACC, when you remove the Eagles from the equation, is 143-36 in non-conference play this season. BC is 5-8 and was the only team to open ACC play with a losing record.
Just five games into conference play, the prospects for this season are already looking dim for this BC team. The Eagles are less than a third of the way through conference play, so the idea of a turnaround isn’t out of the question. That said, they’re 2-6 in their last eight games and now rest six games below .500 overall, three below that mark in conference competition. The ACC is not the kind of league where teams can make up ground in the standings within conference play. Quite simply, BC is running out of time to salvage its season.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor