No. 7 Boston College Uses Stifling Defense to Top No. 10 Virginia Tech in First Round of ACC Tournament
March 6, 2008
By Steve Phillips
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The last month didn't treat Boston College particularly kindly. Still, the Eagles own a two-game winning streak. More importantly, they remain alive in the Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Tournament.
Led by the freshman inside duo of Stefanie Murphy and Carolyn Swords, seventh-seeded BC put the defensive clamps on 10th-seeded Virginia Tech for a 57-47 win in Thursday night's first-round game.
The win was the first for the Eagles in ACC Tournament play since they began competing in the conference during the 2005-06 season.
"We love the feeling of knowing we're not going back to the hotel tonight and getting ready to go back to the airport tomorrow morning," said guard Brittany Johnsion, a redshirt junior. "We're coming back here tomorrow to play another game."
Boston College (20-10) faces second-seeded Maryland (29-2) in Friday's 6 p.m. quarterfinal game.
The 6-foot-4 Murphy led all scorers with 14 points while pulling down a game-high seven rebounds. Swords, a 6-6 center, added 12 points and three steals while blocking two shots.
The combination of a strong inside presence and an effective pressure defense proved too much for the Hokies, who turned the ball over 19 times and saw the Eagles convert their share of those into 21 points.
"We had a great week of practice, and we really tried to emphasize our defense," BC coach Cathy Inglese said. "We said, `This team can be pressured. Let's try to do that and force some turnovers.' ''
The Eagles lost five of their final seven regular-season games, but defeated Miami last Saturday to head into the ACC Tournament with a bit of momentum. A strong start on Thursday night ensured that BC kept its bearings.
Ayla Brown scored nine points in the first 2:54 to power BC to a quick 11-2 lead. The Hokies failed to get closer than seven for the remainder of the first half, which ended with Eagles in front 27-15.
Virginia Tech managed to get the margin below double-figures once in the opening minutes of the second half, but Swords countered with two quick inside buckets to keep BC comfortably ahead.
"The game was obviously a struggle for us offensively, and I think a lot of that had to do with the way we started out defensively," said Virginia coach Beth Dunkenberger. "We didn't force tempo at all in the first half."
Andrea Barbour's 13 points led the Hokies (15-15), and Brittany Cook scored 10.
Brown finished with 11 points, and Johnson added 10 for the Eagles, who delivered a bit of payback after losing to the Hokies in the opening round of last year's tournament.
"Virginia Tech has become sort of a rival to us, and it seemed like any time we needed a big win they were standing in our way saying, `Not today,' '' Johnson said. "To beat them in this game gives us a lot of energy going into the game tomorrow."
BC and Maryland met twice during the regular season, with the fifth-ranked Terps winning by 27 points on both occasions. Obviously, the Eagles will need a better all-around effort to entertain hopes of an upset on Friday night.
"We have to make sure that this time we don't commit turnovers and we don't give them easy points in transition," Inglese said. "That's something they do very well."