Eagles Lose To USF

Boston College's women's basketball team's season ended Wednesday night with a loss to the University of South Florida in the semifinals of the WNIT. Despite holding a four-point lead at the intermission, the Eagles lost 82-65.

Despite double-digit points from three players: sophomore center Carolyn Swords, junior guard Mickel Picco, and sophomore forward Lauren Whitehurst, BC could not overcome USF's second half scoring.

The Bulls shot 35.5 percent in the first half and were just 1-8 from beyond the arc. They improved in the second period to hit 53.1 percent of their shots and 8-13 for three points. Junior guard Janae Stokes scored 19 points in the first half, fifteen of which came in three-point increments.

Though USF led in scoring, the Eagles still dominated the boards, as they have throughout the tournament. BC grabbed 41 rebounds, compared to the Bulls' 31. Eighteen off those were on offense, allowing them eight second chance points. The Eagles out-rebounded their opponents 189-114 in the WNIT.

The opening minutes of the game told the story of the Eagles' biggest issue in the game. USF's freshman guard Jasmine Wynne came up with two steals in the first minute of play, both of which were converted into points on the other end. The Bulls also managed to tip a couple balls away from the Eagles even if they didn't gain possession.

"They had 25 points off of our turnovers," said head coach Sylvia Crawley. "This is just a very good team that feeds off of mistakes."

Turnovers have been an issue all year for the Eagles, who average 19.26 a game. Wednesday's 15 turnovers was one of the lowest totals all season for BC, who have committed as many as 28 in a game. On the other hand, USF had just five errors. The Eagles did capitalize pretty well on what they had, scoring eight points off the turnovers.

The Eagles gained momentum in the second half of the first period, after being down for most of the game. With 9:23 left in the half, freshman guard Jasmine Gill hit a layup off of a turnover by the Bulls. That basket started a six-point run for BC. Although the Bulls kept the score close for the remainder of the period, the Eagles played with a clear hop in their step and momentum.

Senior center Brittany Denson was just about solely responsible for keeping the Bulls in the game for the rest of the half. She scored 10 of the 15 points the Bulls put up in the last seven minutes of the period. Without her contribution, the Eagles would have had a 14 point advantage, instead of four points.

BC started the second half strongly, immediately increasing their lead to six with a layup from Picco. However, with 15:32 left in the game, they lost the lead for good when Stokes hit her third three-pointer of the half. The Eagles were able to keep the game close for five minutes.

Then the Bulls scored 11 unanswered points in less than two minutes. Over the course of the last seven minutes of play, USF expanded their lead to 17 points to earn a berth in the WNIT championship.

There were some bright spots for the Eagles. In addition to their rebounding success, BC had some strong shooters. Picco, who averaged 15.6 points a game before the WNIT, scored over ten points for the first time in since the end of conference play. Swords contributed 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, recording her thirteenth double-double of the season and third of the tournament. Whitehurst came off the bench to have the first double-double of her career with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Whitehurst, who sat out most of last year with a back injury, has improved her play this offseason. She has scored 6 points and posted 6.5 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game, compared to her 3.4 points and 3.5 rebound in 12.1 minutes in the season as a whole.

"I was very pleased with how Lauren Whitehurst has come along lately," said head coach Sylvia Crawley. "We'll need her to start where she left off this season next season, and if we get that from her we're going to be a pretty tough team."

Though the Eagles season ended differently than they had wanted, they are poised to improved and end in a better spot next year. For first year coach Sylvia Crawley, this was more than what many expected and shows she has the program headed in the right direction.

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