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Recap: Freshman Maria Gakdeng sets BC single-season blocks record, Eagles defeat Duke in key battle of bubble teams

Maria Gakdeng continued her phenomenal season on the defensive end and the Boston College Eagles were able to cruise past the Duke Blue Devils.

Boston College v Louisville
Maria Gakdeng (jersey #5)
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Cameron Swartz, Maria Gakdeng and Makayla Dickens led the way for the Boston College Eagles Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. as the team’s best road win of the season, 67-51 over the Duke Blue Devils, may have come just in time.

Entering the game, BC was the last team in in ESPN’s bracketology and Duke was just slightly ahead with one of the last four byes. The Eagles’ win could cause the teams to switch places and should make BC (18-10, 9-8 ACC) feel more comfortable entering a regular-season finale against Syracuse that they should win. It also puts the Blue Devils (16-11, 7-10 ACC) in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament in Kara Lawson’s first full season at the helm. Duke wraps up its regular season with a tough one at No. 18 UNC on Sunday.

The Blue Devils do have two ranked wins to BC’s one, having defeated No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 21 Iowa, while the Eagles have only defeated Notre Dame.

Swartz, who is BC’s leading scorer at 16 points per game, finished with a game-high 21 to go along with seven rebounds and three steals. It marked her fifth straight game with 20-plus points. Gakdeng’s stat line was equally impressive (16 points, 7-of-9 from the field, eight boards and a career-high six blocks) and was unprecedented for a 2021-22 true freshman before last night. With her second rejection of the night, she broke BC’s single-season blocks mark.

Dickens registered 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Swartz was 2-of-3 from downtown while Dickens was 2-of-5. BC takes 18 threes a game, but on Thursday it was an efficient 5-of-11 as a team. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils were 3-of-17.

The Eagles led 19-10 after one and extended their lead with a 19-12 third. Duke won the second 13-12 and the fourth was close too — BC won 17-16.

The Eagles’ largest lead was 20, which came with 1:52 remaining in the third. The Blue Devils scored first on a Lexi Gordon three from the left corner and went on to lead 6-2 after a 3-point play by Jade Williams. But BC closed the opening frame on a 13-2 run that took the score from 8-6 Duke to 19-10 Eagles. Taylor Soule (11 points, seven boards, two steals) had a steal turned lay in that made it 16-10 and Dickens capped the quarter with a triple.

Duke’s leading scorer, Shayeann Day-Wilson, had 12 points (0.4 below her season average) to go along with four rebounds and five helpers.

BC dominated field goal percentage 49.1 percent to 33.3 percent and won the battle on the boards 43-30.

BC’s only other road wins this season have been against non-bracketology teams in Providence, UMass, Clemson and Pitt. Sixteen points is the Eagles’ largest margin of victory on the road in ACC play since Joanna Bernabei-McNamee became their head coach.