Boston College knocks off Miami 76-59
March 5, 2009
This should do the job nicely.
The Boston College Eagles, excluded from last year's NCAA tournament despite 20 overall wins and a .500 ACC record, took an important step toward returning to the event tonight with a 76-59 victory over Miami in the ACC Tournament's first round. BC, which went 7-7 record in regular-season league play, improved to 20-10 overall.
Carolyn Swords and Stefanie Murphy combined for six low-post hoops in four critical minutes as the seventh-seeded Eagles dispatched the 10th-seeded Hurricanes to advance to Friday's quarterfinals against second-seeded Florida State. Virtually unheard from in the first half, the 6-foot-6 Swords and 6-4 Murphy worked well in a high-low tandem that Miami found tough to stop. Swords scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and went 10-for-12 from the floor on the night.
"In the past, we haven't had a great time here in the tournament, and I think we came in here wanting to make the Big Dance," senior guard Corey Rusin said. "And we needed a good 20 wins to get that."
Much of the Eagles' postseason resume is identical to last season's, but the obvious difference is in the RPI. BC began Thursday at 35th and may get a bump in that department even if loses to No. 10 FSU. Last year, the Eagles stood 68th on the chart, which is one of several factors the NCAA tournament selection committee uses in determining at-large selections. While not necessarily a major criterion, the RPI is a good predictor of the field. In this decade, no ACC team in the Top 40 has been excluded.
The Eagles hope March will be more favorable than the brutal February, in which they faced six ranked teams.
"That month definitely made our team a stronger team," coach Sylvia Crawley said.
Crawley, a center on North Carolina's ACC and NCAA championship team of 1993-94, maximized the Eagles' interior advantage by alternating her two post players between the top of the key and the block. The high-post occupant was able to get a good look into the interior because 6-5 Ashley Sours, the tallest Hurricane, couldn't be everywhere. The two Eagles directly hooked up on three important baskets during the stretch, which expanded on a four-point Eagle lead.
"Murph did a great job of moving off the ball," Swords said. "She and I worked very well together, and I was very happy with that."
While using Swords and Murphy together was wonderfully effective, it wasn't perpetually necessary. Boston College also got points out of flashing guards Ayla Brown and Corey Rusin to the free-throw circle and generating low-post looks from there.
"Our strength is to get the ball inside, but we got very few touches in the first half for Carolyn and Stefanie," Crawley said. "In the past, we might have turned the ball over in trying to get it inside. A lot of patience and maturity."
The Eagles, who lost to the Seminoles in the regular season, are seeking their first appearance in the ACC semifinals.