With 8:15 on the clock in a 56-56 game between Boston College women’s basketball and visiting No. 14 Minnesota, Eagles forward Emma Guy sealed off her defender and received a pass from a teammate. With a nifty fake, she sliced past the Gopher and finished a pretty reverse layup.
A Minnesota turnover later, it was Guy who found Georgia Pineau with an entrance pass just over Gophers forward Palma Kaposi. Pineau easily finished off the shot from the low post, pushing the Eagles’ lead to four—they’d trailed by as much as 10 with a minute left in the first half.
A season-defining upset win of a ranked opponent wasn’t in the cards, though. BC missed 10 of its last 12 shots from the field and watched as the Gophers stormed back, going on an 11-0 run immediately following Pineau’s layup and hitting their free throws down the stretch, en route to a 77-69 win.
Minnesota (9-0) continued its program-best start to a season, maintaining its undefeated record behind 35 points from sophomore guard Destiny Pitts. She was pivotal in the Gophers’ early-game success, connecting on six 3-pointers in the first three quarters. While her last basket from the field came with a little over a minute left in the third quarter, Pitts was instrumental in icing the win. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year scored her team’s last 11 points, all coming from the charity stripe.
BC (8-2) suffered its second loss on the year, despite a 25-point effort from Taylor Ortlepp, who hit six 3-pointers and has now piled up 40 total points on 50 percent shooting from deep the last two games. Ortlepp hit five triples in the second half and eventually scored six of her team’s last nine points, desperately attempting to will her team back into the game after it went ice-cold amid a six-minute span.
Minnesota used a pair of early scoring spurts to keep its distance from the Eagles. The visitors strung together 7-0 and 11-0 runs in the first 10 minutes of play, eventually building a 10-point lead that had BC reeling in the early going. First-year Eagles head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee’s team quickly showed resilience, though, with Guy scoring consecutive buckets in the paint. Guy played just 23 minutes, but still finished with 12 points and six rebounds, tying with Pineau for second on the team in scoring.
The four-point swing was followed by another surge from the Eagles at the end of the quarter, with Taylor Soule finding her way to the interior for a layup before Ortlepp connected from distance. The teams traded buckets for the first four minutes of the second quarter, but, once again, BC found itself susceptible to a shooting drought.
Gophers center Annalese Lamke kickstarted a 8-0 run with a pair of buckets—four of her 13 points that finished second on the team. Next, Pitts chipped in a layup and a jumper to open up a 31-22 edge on their hosts. Pitts and Ortlepp traded 3-pointers before the half, at which point Minnesota had a seven-point edge that appeared safe.
That was far from the case. Ortlepp caught fire in the third, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, and teammate Makayla Dickens chipped in with one of her own. An and-one from Pineau followed, and the Eagles were ultimately 9-of-14 from the field in a 25-point quarter that gave them a one-point lead entering the home stretch.
Seven turnovers in the fourth and a plethora of missed shots, however, would quickly see that one-point lead—and a chance at a monumental victory—slip away. Point guard Marnelle Garraud saw her shooting struggles from earlier in the week carry over, as she went 0-of-9 just a game after hitting on just 3-of-12. She also has 11 turnovers the last two games after committing just seven in the previous four games.
The Eagles also committed 24 fouls to Minnesota’s 16, lost the rebounding battle by eight boards, and connected on one more 3-pointer than the Gophers despite having 10 more attempts from distance. It was a hard-fought game from BC, but, ultimately, Minnesota’s ability to come up with stops and string together buckets haunted them.
Still, the night is filled with positives for Bernabei-McNamee. The Eagles were facing their first real test—Minnesota entered as a top-25 team and 17th in RPI. Prior to that, the best team BC had faced had been Rhode Island, who checks in at 107th. Even with almost 60 percent of their minutes going to underclassmen, the Eagles still held a lead entering the fourth quarter and trailed by just four with the clock winding down. It’s a defeat that will likely sting, especially with the scoring droughts that cost them a chance at a win, but it does line them up well to roll through their final three non-conference games against weaker opponents.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor