After a strange and disappointing end to last season (in which the Eagles were left off as the last team out of the NCAA Tournament, two players entered the transfer portal mid-WNIT, and then BC dropped a surprising loss to Columbia), the BC women’s basketball team opened the 2022-23 season tonight against UMass Lowell. Luckily, BC seems to have shaken off any bad vibes from last year, and the Eagles easily walked away with a 81-53 victory tonight.
To nobody’s surprise, Maria Gakdeng scored BC’s first points of the season, grabbing an early layup to give BC a 2-0 lead. BC went up 10-2 from there thanks to a 3 from JoJo Lacey and a pair of baskets from Canadian freshman T’Yana Todd.
The Eagles did a great job of drawing fouls in the first quarter (Dontavia Waggoner in particular), with Lowell hitting 5 with 4:51 to go. Lacey hit a pair of free throws on that 5th foul, at which point BC took a 15-6 lead.
Lowell got within 3 as the first period wound down, but Ally VanTimmeren hit a pair of baskets to help BC take a 23-16 lead into the second quarter.
Lowell came out dominant in the second period, and a pair of 3 pointers helped the Riverhawks to take a 24-23 lead for their first lead of the game. Freshman Taina Mair put BC back on top with a great steal and her first basket as an Eagle, but Lowell immediately picked up another 3 to go back up 29-28.
The game stayed close for much of the remainder of the period, but Lacey hit a 3 with just over a minute to go in the half to put BC up 36-31, and Mair and Gakdeng followed with baskets of their own to give BC a 40-31 lead as the clock wound down. Lowell hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go, and the teams went into halftime with BC leading by 7.
Todd started the second half off with a 3 pointer, building BC’s lead to 10, and Waggoner followed that up with a basket and a free throw for a 3 point play of her own, putting BC up 48-33.
The Eagles continued to dominate as the third period went on, shutting Lowell down with some highlight reel defensive plays, and hitting the basket on offense. With 5 minutes to go in the period, BC led 54-33. The Eagles didn’t let up on either end of the court, and took a 62-40 lead into the final period of play.
BC kept up the momentum in the final period of play, ultimately winning this one 81-53. In a nice show of teamwork, the Eagles made sure Ava McGee and Ally Carman, who came off the bench late, were each able to score a basket before the game ended
The Eagles certainly will have some work to do before ACC play begins, particularly in terms of limiting fouls and not having that one sluggish period per game, but overall this season opener gives us a lot of positive takeaways. BC saw scoring from across the roster, finishing having shot 52.38% from the floor. Dontavia Waggoner led the game with 17 points and 8 rebounds, closely followed by JoJo Lacey with 16 points. BC also played strong defense for most of the game, with 18 steals, 7 blocks, and 45 rebounds. And on both sides of the court, BC was successful at drawing fouls.
On an individual level, Todd and Mair both saw significant minutes for freshmen but didn’t show much nervousness or uncertainty and recorded 7 and 9 points respectively. Mair also grabbed a team-leading 7 steals and 13 assists. Lacey and Waggoner stand out as players whose games have made big jumps since last season, with Lacey hitting some much needed 3s and making some great steals, and Waggoner putting on an offensive show to match her always high energy defense. And of course, Gakdeng continues to impress, particularly as she came up big with highlight reel blocks and rebounds, finishing the game with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.