GREENSBORO, N.C.—Sharpshooting Golden State Warrior guard Stephen Curry returned to the basketball court Thursday night after a long absence due to injury. It seems as though Boston College—sponsored by the same Under Armour brand that Curry has popularized—captured Curry's magic from deep Friday night.
Against third-seeded Duke, No. 6 seed Boston College was on fire from the 3-point line the entire night, knocking down nine treys in just 15 attempts. Hot hands from the perimeter opened up space for two elite inside scorers to operate with ease down low. All-ACC first-teamer Emma Guy finished the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while ACC Most Improved Player Taylor Soule carried on her progress with a game-high 26 points, scoring 12 of Eagles’ last 14 points. Eagles’ impressive inside-out game helped the team cruise past the Blue Devils en route to a semifinal spot.
“It was a tough combination,” said head coach Joanne P. McCallie. “Their points in the paint were more significant in the first half, even than their three-point shooting. They have a good inside out game. We needed just an overall better job of ball pressure anticipation, taking away passing angles.”
Leading their firework show was sophomore Makayla Dickens, who drained four three-pointers. The most important shot from the cold-blooded sniper came in the fourth quarter, after the Blue Devils intensified their defense and went on an 11-2 run. As Leaonna Odom finished a transition basket to cap the strong push, the whole stadium seemed to cheer for Duke. Dickens, on the next possession, blocked out the noise and pulled up a gutsy triple in Haley Gorecki’s face. The shot was nothing but net, just like her previous three attempts.
This, however, was not the first time Dickens emerged as a Blue Devil killer. The Virginia Beach, Va., native had her best game of last season against the Blue Devils when she notched her then-career-high 25 points along with seven treys. She hit a runner at the end of the regulation to send the game into overtime and turned up clutch again in overtime with a runner to seal the win for the Eagles last year.
Three other Eagles joined the firework crew, and sophomore Cameron Swartz drained by far the most stunning triple of the night when she calmly hit a three from NBA range to beat the dwindling shot clock. The effect of Boston College’s on-fire shooting can be best explained by two well-executed plays.
The first play occurred in the second quarter when Dickens received the ball at the top of the key. The Duke defender respected her jumper so much that a tiny pump fake sent the Blue Devil flying. Dickens then moved smoothly inside, drawing the rim protector towards her, before dishing out the ball to an unattended Georgia Pineau for a layup.
The second play happened in the late third quarter when Cameron Swartz initiated offense at the top of the key. This time, Pineau came down to set a pick, but the Blue Devil defender chose to overcommit against the shooter instead of covering the roller. Swartz then lobbed the ball into the paint for an easy Pineau conversion.
Throughout Friday night, the Blue Devils did a decent job on the offensive end to keep the game neck-and-neck. Despite bricking four treys in the desperate final seconds, Blue Devils’ 33.3 percent from beyond the arc was still better than the season average. Mikayla Boykin entered her first ACC tournament game with a hot hand, knocking down two threes in the first quarter. In addition, Jade Williams’ six-for-seven shooting performance and Odom’s efficient midrange pull-up jumpers helped Duke to finish the night with a 47.7 percent from the field, 4.6 percent higher than the season average.
Hopefully for the Blue Devils, they will have one another chance to prove themselves in March and they should learn from this contest that when it comes to NCAA tournament season, defense wins championships.
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