Women's Basketball Notches 16th Win, 71-51

Roughly a third of the way through the conference schedule, the BC women's basketball team continued to roll, beating Clemson on Saturday. The win keeps the Eagle's tied in second place with a record of 4-and-1. The win was the third straight and eight win since returning from the Christmas break.

With a grueling four-game gauntlet looming for the Boston College women's basketball team – road games at NC State and Duke, followed by home games against Florida State and Maryland – Friday night's game against Clemson at Conte Forum took on an added air of importance.

That intensity manifested itself negatively with 49 seconds left in the first half. BC's early seven point lead had evaporated, and a layup by Lindsay Mason gave Clemson a 34-32 lead – their first of the game. BC called a timeout, and point guard Jaclyn Thoman spiked the ball, picking up a technical foul. Lele Hardy converted both free throws, giving Clemson a 36-32 lead. That's when head Coach Sylvia Crawley went to work, restoring her team's confidence and making critical adjustments.

"I took [Thoman] out so she could cool off and collect her thoughts," said Crawley. "I put Brittany [Johnson] in the game, and she made some huge plays for us. Then, when Jaclyn went back into the game, she made an impact as well."

Thoman and Johnson responded to the challenge, combining for 13 assists in the 2nd half as BC steamrolled the Tigers, outscoring them 38-15 over the final 20 minutes to score a 71-51 victory. Carolyn Swords scored 19 of her game-high 29 points in the 2nd, including five consecutive baskets as the Eagles built up an eight point lead in the early stages of the half.

"At halftime, we made some important adjustments we needed to make on the boards and with our zone defense," said Crawley.

Crawley also made one other adjustment that proved pivotal in Swords' 2nd half explosion.

"Clemson is really good at defending from the wing… so we tried to hit Carolyn from the top of the key. Our guards did a great job of feeding her, and Carolyn did a great job of catching, turning, and finishing," said Crawley.

The results of the adjustment were clear – in the first half, BC had just two assists, but in the second half, they had 11. Five assists by Thoman helped BC turn a 36-33 gap into a 46-39 lead by the first media timeout, and Clemson was never able to close the gap from there.

With 12:47 remaining, Johnson lobbed a pass from the key over two Clemson defenders to find Swords, who spun around and hit a layup to extend BC's lead to 48-40. Then, on the next possession, Johnson slashed to the bucket and scored a runner in the lane to push the Eagles' lead into double digits. Those baskets were part of a 13-1 run for BC, giving them a 15 point lead with 9 minutes to play.

Clemson never threatened to get back into the game as BC kept feeding Swords down the stretch. Swords added the exclamation point with four seconds left in the game, hitting a turnaround jumper in the paint with one second left on the shot clock to make it 71-51 BC, eliciting an appreciative cheer from the Conte Forum crowd of 1,924.

Mickel Picco had another strong game, scoring 17 points and shooting 6-for-11, including one three pointer, extending her streak of making a three pointer to 28 games.

Thoman lead the team in both assists and rebounds, pulling in 6 boards in addition to her 5 helpers. Stefanie Murphy had 5 rebounds, while Johnson chipped in 8 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. It was a total team effort on the glass, as 10 of 11 BC players picked up rebounds.

BC's win caps off a busy but very successful week. The Eagles scored 3 wins in 6 days, beating Miami on Sunday, NJIT on Wednesday, and Clemson on Friday.

"I credit this win to our non-starters," said Crawley after the game. "They showed up and worked really hard in practice. We had a limited time to bounce back from [the game on Wednesday night], and our players were tired… but the [non-starters] did a great job emulating what Clemson would do and preparing us for tonight's game."

Crawley also had another unique carrot to dangle in front of her tired team – the promise of two days off.

"I told them, if we win tonight, you get the weekend off," she laughed.

"This is the time of the year where you dig deep and pull out some wins. Everyone's tired this time of year… the teams that dig deep now are the ones that peak at the end of the season. If you're not playing your best basketball now, people start pointing fingers, and you're not usually at your best down the stretch."

After their two days off, the Eagles (16-4, 4-1 ACC) will get back to work on Monday, in preparation for Thursday night's game at North Carolina State.

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