Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Has Epic Collapse At Boston College
In the 44-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball, there have been many defeats by much larger margins than the 64-61 setback at Boston College on Thursday night, and there have been more heartbreaking losses on much grander stages.
But perhaps none quite rivaled the overall collapse seen at the Conte Forum in the closing minutes.
Holding a 60-48 lead, the Fighting Irish committed six turnovers in the final 2:41 (two of them shot-clock violations), were outscored 16-1 in the last 2:35 and failed to convert a field goal over the final 5:33.
Boston College’s Cameron Swartz tallied a lay-in for the game-winning bucket with 10 seconds left. After a timeout, Notre Dame in-bounded the ball to freshman forward and scoring leader Maddy Westbeld, who missed a mid-range jumper that Boston College rebounded. The Eagles converted two free throws with less than a second remaining to round out the scoring.
After shooting 63.6 percent from the floor (7 of 11) to take a 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, building the advantage to 39-29 halftime and moving ahead by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter (58-44), the Fighting Irish saw their two-game winning streak snapped to drop to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the league. Boston College (5-4, 1-4), which had been competitive while playing an arduous league slate, won its first league game.
The Irish shot 5 of 20 (25 percent) from the floor in the second half after going 14 of 28 (50 percent) in the first, and their 23 turnovers — many occurring versus the full-court press, particularly in the closing minutes — also contributed to the devastating defeat.
“Super disappointed with how we ended that game,” commented first-year head coach Niele Ivey. “I thought we lost that game with lack of discipline and lack of leadership on the floor. Hats off to Boston College for fighting back. Just taking care of the ball is a concern for us.”
Senior center Mikki Vaughn paced the Notre Dame scoring with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, and also grabbed seven rebounds. Sophomore Anaya Peoples had 10 points and nine rebounds, while sixth-year senior Destinee Walker had nine points — although only on 2 of 10 shooting from the field — seven rebounds and a team-high four assists.
1. Soul-Searing Defeat
This was the kind of loss that can ruin a season — and naturally raise questions about the bench coaching under a new regime. The game at Syracuse this Sunday has been postponed, as was Pitt at home next Thursday, because of COVID-19 issues with those teams. Whether replacement games will be found is uncertain.
After an 11-day layoff, this team responded well to a miserable 78-55 loss at Clemson on Dec. 20 with a strong win at Miami (71-60) and avenging a loss to Georgia Tech (69-67). Resilience will need to be doubled down now, but even more necessary will be fundamentals of protecting the basketball, not over-dribbling, getting far better ball movement in half-court sets and handling full-court presses.
2. Quick Momentum Shift
It was 60-48 with 2:41 remaining when the Irish turned over the basketball. In a span of merely 36 seconds, Boston College then went on an 8-0 run with two threes and a lay-up to cut it to 60-56 with 2:05 remaining — and then made another three at the 1:47 mark. That’s an 11-0 run in 54 seconds.
That would be difficult to achieve even in the wildest of fantasies.
3. Turning Point?
Sophomore forward Sam Brunelle had to leave the court late in the third quarter after taking an inadvertent shot to her head from teammate Walker during a defensive stance. The Irish were leading 48-39 at the time, and Brunelle was unable to return. The turnover travails cost the Irish more than anything, but it also seemed that Brunelle’s exit had a bit of a deflating effect.
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