Shields Propels Eagles to Quarterfinals
Eagles upset sixth-seeded Virginia, face North Carolina on Friday
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Kerri Shields delivered 10 of her 16 points in the final 8:32 as the 11th-seeded Eagles recovered after losing a 13-point second-half lead to secure a 66-57 victory over No. 6 Virginia in the final first round game of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament on Thursday night.
Shields connected on three consecutive possessions to stabilize the Eagles, and Tessah Holt's steal and layup with 56.5 seconds left created a four-point swing that repelled the Cavaliers' quest to tie in the final minute.
The result followed 10th-seeded Wake Forest's victory over No. 7 Georgia Tech earlier in the evening, marking the first time that more than one double-digit seed has prevailed in the first round. This is the ninth year with 11 or more teams in the field.
Boston College (12-18) advances to face third-seeded North Carolina (26-5) in Friday's quarterfinals, and they're happy to stick around after a lopsided defeat in last year's tournament opener.
"Some of the associations with Greensboro and the tournament, apparently, are not so nice from the past," said Boston College coach Erik Johnson, who led the Eagles to a victory in his tournament debut after Boston College fell in the opening round the past three years. "Preparation is big part of it. We came to the 11 a.m. game just to soak in the atmosphere. And I don't want them sitting in their hotel watching really bad reality TV and rotting their young minds."
The Eagles jumped on the Cavaliers early in the second half and were seemingly on their way to an easy victory until Ataira Franklin led a turnover-fueled 18-3 run that she capped with a 3-point field goal out of the left corner with 10:37 left. The Cavaliers were suddenly up and seeking to become the first team in eight years and only the fifth in the tournament's 38-year history to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit and claim victory.
Shields then stepped in, connecting for seven quick points to restore her team to the lead and stop a trend of stagnant possessions.
"We persevered," she said. "Virginia came at us hard and got that run, and we knew that we needed to stop it. The ball happened to be in my hands and my teammates have confidence in me to take those shots."
The Eagles were up five in the final two minutes before the last Cavalier surge, which got a three-point play from Franklin and a turnover. Down two and with the clock nearing the one-minute mark, Holt disrupted the start of a play at the top of the key, created a loose ball and got it. She went in for a layup and drew the foul. She missed the subsequent free throw, but when Boston College claimed the rebound, it was on its way to the quarterfinals.
"I wouldn't say it was that play that lost us the game," Franklin said, "because we shouldn't have been in that situation. But it was a little deflating because it was so late in the game.