Maria Gakdeng and the Boston College women’s basketball team put together four dominant quarters to beat Duke 67-51 on the road, ending a four-road game losing streak. The win is the Eagles’ first at Duke since joining the ACC in 2005 and will be critical to BC’s case for making the NCAA tournament.
Gakdeng had a season high six blocks against the Devils, while on her way to setting a school record for most blocks in a season (currently at 63). The freshman also led the game in rebounds, grabbing eight for the Eagles. Her defensive play helped to shut down options in the paint for Duke, forcing the Blue Devils to attempt jump shots from a distance.
Gakdeng said setting the single season record was “exhilarating.” She continued, “I’m really excited that I was able to get to this point. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coaches and my teammates. Just improving since I got here in June, I’ve improved a lot.”
A lights-out Eagles defense ended the game with 33 defensive rebounds, essentially limiting the Blue Devils to a shot per possession. In comparison, Duke managed only 19 defensive rebounds and had 11 offensive rebounds to the Eagles 10.
In the post-game press conference, Coach Bernabei-McNamee noted, “The way we rebounded the ball [was a difference in this game]. We did a really good job on the boards and that kind of kept us, even on their run. We really limited them on the rebounding end.”
In addition to her help in limiting the Blue Devils to 33.3% when shooting from the floor, Gakdeng also demonstrated her agility, twisting to the basket to put up 16 points from the paint. The freshman illustrated her growth and maturity over the season, putting together her most complete game yet during a critical win.
Three-point shooting helped to consolidate the Eagles’ lead in the third quarter, with Cameron Swartz, Makayla Dickens, and Kaylah Ivey each sinking a shot from behind the arc. Those nine points contributed to the 13-0 run the Eagles went on to start the quarter, increasing the pressure on the Blue Devils. Swartz had an impressive three-point bucket to close out the second quarter, scrambling in the corner and sinking the shot with the shot clock at one second.
The Blue Devils' defense and Eagles’ turnover kept Duke in the game. The Blue Devils' defense forced the Eagles to work the perimeter and run down the shot clock while looking for an open shooting lane, often forcing late shots or desperate passes. Duke forced 19 turnovers, but only converted on seven, leaving valuable points on the court.
Even with the turnovers, Bernabei-McNamee said, “I was really proud of the way…we moved the ball today. I love when we get production from more than just one or two players. The consistency of how hard we played on the defensive end, I think that was what impressed me the most, that we really locked in on the defensive end.”
Swartz finished the night with 21 points, making this the fifth straight game where the senior has scored 20 or more points.
“The big thing is her self-confidence and it has really been off the charts as this year has gone on,” Bernabei-McNamee stated. “I’m really proud of just how consistently she’s been playing. Especially these last few games her turnover numbers have really gone down as well. She’s done a nice job just putting together offensive plays.”
Up next, the Eagles (18-10) play Syracuse (11-16) on the road this Sunday at noon to conclude the regular season. The last time the two teams met, the Eagles won 95-71.
- Authentic Eagles