In their first game against a ranked opponent this season, the Boston College women’s basketball team (8-2) was defeated by the No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-0) by a score of 77-69. It was a close matchup for much of the game and came down to the wire in the 4th quarter. Minnesota was able to pull away at the end thanks to some clutch shots and opportune rebounding.
With two of the best rebounding teams in the country going against each other, the game unsurprisingly got off to a very physical start. BC’s Emma Guy had great looks inside the paint early in the game. Minnesota forced their way to the rim by drawing fouls early despite not shooting a spectacular percentage from the free throw line on the season.
However, Minnesota would take the lead after capitalizing on BC’s early shooting woes and slow defensive rotations. On consecutive possessions, the Eagles would shoot the ball a couple seconds into the shot clock and couldn’t get back in time on defense to interrupt the Golden Gopher’s ball movement. A 10-0 run by Minnesota, capped by a three from Minnesota’s Destiny Pitts, put them ahead in the final minutes of the first quarter.
Kenisha Bell, an NCAA preseason top 25 player, used her speed to consistently get to the rim, drawing foul after foul. She leads the Big Ten in attempted free throws at 76.
However, BC would end the quarter on a 9-2 run of their own. BC’s Taylor Ortlepp hit a huge three to give the Eagles momentum heading into the 2nd Quarter.
BC started the quarter with two offensive rebounds, but couldn’t convert on either of the second chance opportunities. Missed offensive opportunities, despite being able to get offensive rebounds, became BC’s Achilles heel down the stretch.
Minnesota’s Annalese Lamke could not be contained on the boards, doing the dirty work down low and getting easy looks. Emma Guy had trouble guarding her in the post, picking up her second foul early in the quarter, forcing BC Head Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee to take her out.
However, BC’s offensive weapon down low was replaced by fellow forward Georgia Pineau, who moved off the ball to free herself up along the baseline. Still, the Eagles, who had scored 80+ points in five of their nine games, were only shooting around 30% to this point. The Golden Gophers reached their largest lead of 10 points in the second quarter. But the Eagles refused to back down.
Minnesota’s Taiyo Bello, who leads the NCAA with 14.9 RPG, went to the bench after picking up her third foul. BC took advantage. They recorded six offensive rebounds in the quarter and cut the Minnesota lead to seven heading into halftime.
The third quarter started with more of the same for the Eagles. An offensive rebound by BC’s Marnelle Garraud led to a quick layup by Guy, who returned back to the floor after sitting out for much of the second quarter. With the attention on Guy on offense, Pineau was freed up for some great looks again in the paint.
Traveling violations would haunt the Eagles for the rest of the game. After great defensive stands and forced turnovers, the Eagles gave the ball right back to the Golden Gophers with unnecessary violations.
Still, the Eagles were still very much in the game thanks to some incredible shots by Ortlepp, who drilled her fifth three of the game from NBA range with a hand in her face to take their first lead of the game since the first quarter. Ortlepp would finish the game with a season-best 25 points and five rebounds.
On the other end, Minnesota's sharpshooter Destiny Pitts was also unconscious from beyond the arc, shooting 6-of-8 from three with 35 points in the game. The two guards would battle it out for the rest of the game.
The Eagles still had no answer for Lamke in the paint. At one point, she was able to corral a rebound with three BC defenders surrounding her underneath the basket. She finished the game with 13 points and seven offensive rebounds. Minnesota went into the fourth quarter with a narrow lead over BC at 54-53.
Clean shots by BC’s Makayla Dickens, Guy, and Pineau in the fourth quarter put the Eagles up by four, giving BC its largest lead of the game. With Minnesota’s Bello, Bell, and Lamke all in foul trouble BC took the opportunity to start winning the rebounding battle.
Minnesota responded with an 11-0 run in the next seven minutes that wiped away all the momentum BC had built, taking a 67-60 lead with 49 seconds to play. BC was 0-of-7 from the field during this scoring run and couldn’t take advantage of Minnesota’s missed free throws.
The clock would wind down as Minnesota secured a road win with a final of 77-69.
Minnesota improves to 9-0 on the season and 4-0 against Boston College all-time. The Golden Gophers were on fire from beyond the arc for the whole game, shooting a season-best 7-of-12 from the three.
Despite being a less physical team, the Eagles outscored the Golden Gophers 32-28 in the paint, a credit to the performance of both Guy and Pineau.
The Eagles fall to 8-2 on the season after Sunday’s loss. They will face Boston University (4-3) next Sunday at 4 pm at Conte Forum.
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