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Soule/Swartz duo steps up for BC in win over Pitt

Taylor Soule and Cameron Swartz both had great performances as the Boston College Eagles bounced back from a heartbreaking overtime loss to No. 4 NC State with a win over the Pitt Panthers.

NELA5447.JPG BC women’s basketball
Taylor Soule (left) and Cameron Swartz exchange a high-five.
Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Senior Taylor Soule notched her first 20-point game since Jan. 23 with a season-high 26 to lead the Boston College Eagles past the Pitt Panthers, 69-57, Tuesday night at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Soule was 10-of-19 from the floor and also had five steals as BC came back from down seven after one. The Eagles won the second by eight, the third by five and the fourth by six. The closest Pitt got in the fourth was within four at the 8:53 mark. BC led by at least nine for the final 6:39. It went on an 8-1 run featuring threes from senior Cameron Swartz and freshman Ally VanTimmeren to give itself an 11-point lead at that mark.

Swartz reached double figures for the Eagles for the 13th game in a row and eclipsed 20 for the second straight contest with 22. She was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc and added eight rebounds and two steals.

Soule is first on BC with 15.5 points per game and Swartz is second with 15.3. Soule was the team’s leading scorer in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and entered this season as the hyped-up face of the program. She was named to the Cheryl Miller watch list as one of the best small forwards in the country. But Swartz has been the Eagles’ go-to scorer save for her slow start to the season, which drags her scoring average down. Together, the two have made BC a potential NCAA Tournament team and on Tuesday they accumulated their second-highest combined point total of the season, behind only the 52 they scored on Jan. 9 at Clemson. Swartz had 39 in that game.

“I think the big thing I saw, especially from Taylor Soule in that second quarter and then from both of them throughout the second half was that ‘refuse to lose’ mentality,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said of the duo. “And that's something that you almost have to have when you’re getting to this point in the year. And that’s something that you also rely on your senior and veteran players to have.”

“With Cam, it’s always just trust,” Soule said. “Whether one of us is having a bad shooting night or in foul trouble or whatever it may be, the thing that has to be continuous is making sure the other person knows that (we) have each other’s backs. And so that’s something that I preach to her all the time.”

BC freshman Maria Gakdeng chipped in with eight points, eight boards and three blocks. Soule was successful on her one 3-point attempt, giving her three treys on the season.

Dayshanette Harris led Pitt with 16 points to go along with five rebounds.

BC won despite losing the field goal percentage battle 42.6 percent to 39.7 percent. It did outshoot the Panthers from long range (6-of-13 to 3-of-10). It also won the rebounding battle 38-27.

The Eagles turned the ball over 22 times but forced 25 miscues and won points off turnovers 26-17.

BC is currently projected by ESPN to be in a play-in game in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles could end up feeling a lot more comfortable during the selection show if they win the rest of their regular season games and have a strong showing in the ACC Tournament. All four remaining regular-season games are winnable. Three of them are against teams that are not even on the bubble, and the other is against a Duke team that isn’t too far ahead in the projection as a No. 10 seed.

BC already has a win over a projected No. 4 seed in Notre Dame and has challenged No. 3 Louisville, No. 4 NC State and No. 24 UNC.