March 4, 2021
ACC Tournament, Day 1: Boston College’s Cameron Swartz shines in Greensboro
Plus, the latest notes from around the ACC
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – The last time Boston College faced Pitt in women’s basketball was just a few weeks ago, on Feb. 16 at the Conte Forum. And things didn’t go the Eagles’ way as they fell, 83-80.
The biggest difference between that game and Boston College’s ACC tournament-opening win over the Panthers on Wednesday was the play of Cameron Swartz. In that loss a while back, she struggled to find her groove and finished with just 10 points.
On Wednesday, Swartz kicked her play into an extra gear, like she made the jump to light-speed in the Millennium Falcon. The junior guard from Marietta, Georgia finished with a career-high 33 points in BC’s 67-56 victory, setting an ACC tournament record for the most points scored by one player in a first round game.
Swartz also added six rebounds, two assists and a steal to her stat line while playing admirable defense on Pitt’s top scorer, Jayla Everett.
“I don’t know, just felt like I was in the right spot at the right time and it just felt good,” Swartz said after the game. “Playing in front of my parents, too, my brother, my cousins, (that) was also a good feeling, and I just felt good… Just staying really focused and confident really helped me out.”
Because of Swartz’s stellar play, Boston College lives to fight another day. They’ll face fifth-seeded Syracuse on Thursday at 2 p.m. The Orange recently beat the Eagles 92-75 last week.
But if Swartz continues to play like this, Boston College will have the chance to beat anyone. The Eagles beat Pitt by double-digits with All-ACC selection Taylor Soule totaling just four points and five boards. Makayla Dickens was the only other Eagle to crack a double-digit scoring total, finishing with 11 points.
“Thank goodness Cameron Swartz came up big time after time in our offense,” BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “I was really proud of Cam. Her last couple games she’s been so consistent, and moving forward that’s what we’ve got to continue to see from her.”
Indeed, Swartz really lit the game up in the second quarter, where she scored a third of her points. During a run that increased the Eagles’ lead to 15, she drained a three-pointer while Pitt’s Amber Brown was guarding her closely. Swartz shot 4-of-8 from behind the arc and 15-of-16 from the charity stripe.
“She just played with that fire in her eyes,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “She was seeing a big basket out there today, and I hope that’s the way she sees it this whole tournament.”
A three-star recruit in 2018’s class of prospects, Swartz signed with Colorado back then over offers from Georgetown, Georgia, Michigan and Virginia Tech. After one season at Colorado — where she played in just seven games — Swartz transferred to Boston College just in time for Bernabei-McNamee’s first year on the job. This season, Swartz is averaging 13.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per-game.
And if she has a repeat performance Thursday, Syracuse will have its hands full.
After Pitt’s opening-round loss in the ACC tournament to Boston College, Panthers’ head coach Lance White indicated that the team’s lone active senior, Gabbie Green, would seek an extra year of eligibility, but likely use it at a program closer to her home in Bellville, Texas. Said White: “Gabbie is going to take a look. It’s been extremely difficult for her to be away from her family this far. We’ve talked, and we’re going to look at some different options… We’ll find a great spot for her really because she added so much to our team. I recruited Gabbie to teach us how hard you have to play and the speed, the tempo that she brings. She’s a great energy kid.”
Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman has no illusions about where his program stands in the NCAA tournament picture. Last week, the Orange head coach said, “I don’t see why we wouldn’t be in… I do think we’re (a middle of the pack) seed. We’re in that 7 to 9 area. We should be solid.” Indeed, Syracuse is a fifth seed in the ACC tournament but ranks 42nd in NET, the sixth-best mark for an ACC team. A good showing in Greensboro could improve Syracuse’s standing for the Big Dance. Our CERTIFIED BRACKETOLOGIST Russ Steinberg had them at a 10 seed this past Tuesday.
Raina Perez will return to N.C. State for an additional season, Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore announced last week. The transfer from Cal State Fullerton leads the ACC in assist-turnover ratio this year with a +2.8 mark and is second in the conference in total assists with 94. She’s also averaging 9.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per-game. Perez is the first high-profile ACC player to formally announce she’s taking advantage of the NCAA’s free year of eligibility. “It’s pretty amazing, what she’s done,” Moore said. “It would be tough to do all we’re doing without Raina Perez. We’re fortunate to get her. We’re very blessed to have her here. The plan is for her to complete her Master’s Degree and her to be here another year.”
N.C. State’s Elissa Cunane and Louisville’s Dana Evans are both semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
Kelley Gibson is no longer on Katie Meier’s coaching staff at Miami, a spokesperson for the Hurricanes’ athletic department confirmed to The Next. It’s unclear when the change was made exactly, but Noelle Cobb was promoted to interim assistant coach in December. Gibson was hired by Miami in July, filling the open position vacated by Tia Jackson, who left to join Kara Lawson’s staff at Duke. An All-ACC player at Maryland, Gibson had previously been an assistant coach at Rutgers, Syracuse and USC.
Miami sophomore Brianna Jackson entered the transfer portal earlier this week, a source close to the situation confirmed to The Next. She’s no longer on the Canes’ roster. A 6-foot-3 forward from Virginia Beach, Jackson played in 10 games for the Canes this year. A season ago, she averaged 4.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per-game as a freshman.