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Women's Basketball Looks to Build on Last Season's Success

WE ARE… underdogs once again. After crushing all expectations last year with one of the best seasons in program history, the Boston College women’s basketball team is back this week for their 2020-21 season. Although the team ended last year sixth place in the ACC, a program-best, the preseason polls disrespected the up-and-comers with a ninth place vote. 

The Eagles ended the 2019-20 season with a strong 20-12 record, their best in a decade. The team also advanced to the ACC semifinals before COVID-19 forced the season to shut down early. 

BC looks to improve on its gritty, hard-nosed style of basketball. This approach has been successful since Head Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee took over two years ago and should continue to improve with many key players returning. Despite BC losing some of its most consistent producers, it is still an extremely mature and prepared team.

It will be tough for the Eagles to replace the three seniors they lost last season. Emma Guy, Taylor Ortlepp, and Georgia Pineau are all playing professionally this year. Guy plays for Sporting Athens, Ortlepp for her hometown team of Adelaide Lightning, and Pineau also in Australia with the Bendigo Spirit. 

Sydney Lowery is the lone senior this year. Although she averaged only eight minutes per game last season off the bench, her leadership and experience is essential for the team’s underclassmen. Milan Bolden-Morris contributed energy and three-pointers off the bench for BC last season. She would have also been a senior this year but transferred to Georgetown at the end of last week.

The Eagles’ large junior class is where much of their talent is located. Taylor Soule, Cameron Swartz, Marnelle Garraud, Clara Ford, and Makayla Dickens are all returning for their third season.

Soule, in particular, is coming off a huge season in which she averaged a team-high 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds and recorded 10 double-doubles. Her play resulted in her being named the ACC Most Improved Player, as well as receiving a myriad of other honors. 

The preseason accolades are already piling up, indicating that Soule will be a player to watch for this season. She received preseason All-ACC honors and is on the watchlist for the Cheryl Miller Award and the Women's Naismith Trophy.

Swartz, Garraud, and Dickens will return as starters and be major contributors to the team’s success. All averaged over nine points, with Garraud also averaging nearly two steals per game. These four will likely play big minutes and lead the Eagles both on and off the court this season.

Clara Ford will likely have a much larger role at center this year following the loss of Guy and Pineau. Ford appeared in 20 games last year. She averaged just over three minutes per game, but she showed flashes of improvement in those limited minutes.

Sophomore Jaelyn Batts will also be sure to step into a larger role this season. She didn’t have a loud rookie season, averaging 12.9 minutes with 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Another sophomore Akunna Konkwo will make her debut at center after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles.

Freshmen Kaylah Ivey, JoJo Lacey, and Sydney McQuietor round out this season’s roster. Ivey and Lacey are guards, while McQuietor is a forward. All three are expected to come off the bench but should get plenty of looks at the court in Bernabei-McNamee’s rotation.

This should be a promising season for the Eagles. Behind the efforts of the junior class, with help from the other returning and new players, BC should improve upon last year’s exceptional season and possibly even get a look at the NCAA tournament.

The Eagles opened up the ‘20-’21 season on Wednesday at noon against New Hampshire.

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