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Boston College honors memory of former coach Cathy Inglese

After the first quarter of a game against Virginia, Boston College honored the late former coach Cathy Inglese (pictured on scoreboard) with her siblings on the court (left to right Vincent Inglese, Steven Inglese, Beth Rondo, and Nancy Inglese). jim davis/globe staff/Globe Staff

Though the result, a 69-52 loss to Virginia, was disappointing, Boston College women’s basketball coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee is certain that former coach Cathy Inglese would have loved to be at Conte Forum on Sunday afternoon.

On Alumni Day and Women’s Empowerment Day, the Eagles honored Inglese, who died in July at age 60 from injuries sustained in a fall

It was the perfect occasion to recognize the winningest head coach in program history, who fought for the women’s team to play a full home schedule at Conte Forum, where the men’s team played, instead of the practice facility at Power Gym, and built her teams like families, dancing at players’ weddings and holding their newborn children.

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“I’m really disappointed we couldn’t play a little bit harder to honor her memory a little bit better,” Bernabei-McNamee said after the loss. “I definitely think she’s up there smiling.”

In addition to video tributes that were shown throughout the game, Inglese was honored with a ceremony after the first quarter. Her four siblings — brothers Vince and Stephen and sisters Nancy and Beth — accepted flowers and a BC home jersey with “Inglese” and the number 1 on the back.

“It means so much to our family to see people come back,” Vince Inglese said before the game. “The entire BC community, players, parents, fans, shared so much with Cathy as far as support and encouragement throughout her career. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”

The former coach was also recognized pregame at a private reception for alumni, family, and friends, who wore stickers with Inglese’s initials and nametags featuring a photo of the BC Hall of Famer. With a photo slideshow in the background, Bernabei-McNamee, athletic director Martin Jarmond, and Aimee (McGuire) Coen, Inglese’s first recruit, shared Inglese’s impact.

“Cathy taught and led by example,” Coen said. “She believed that details really did matter, hustle mattered, and teamwork mattered. She was a believer in equality and helping provide women with the same exact opportunities that the men have.

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“We are forever grateful for the gift of time that we were able to have with Cathy.”

Beth Rondo (left) and Nancy Inglese, sisters of late head coach Cathy Inglese, took part in the ceremony Sunday. Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The room that held 40 alumni and more than 50 of Inglese’s friends and family filled with laughter as Coen relayed a common memory — walking past Conte Forum late at night and seeing the light on in the window of Inglese’s fourth floor office.

“She loved the preparation that went into a season, and the preparation that went into building a team,” said Becky Gottstein Holden, who played for Inglese from 1998-2002. “We were very fortunate to be a part of that. We grew and matured under her guidance and under her tutelage.”

Bernabei-McNamee coached against Inglese at Maryland, and remembered calling Inglese when she took the BC position in 2018. In addition to offering initial advice, Inglese would call regularly to check in and offer feedback.

“It is very sad and emotional that I don’t have her to make those phone calls to anymore,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “The foundation and the building blocks of what Boston College women’s basketball is, Cathy started that. Now we’re trying to live up to those expectations and get that program back to where she had it.”

At 9-7 (2-3 ACC), the Eagles are some steps away from matching up to Inglese’s legacy — seven NCAA Tournament appearances, three trips to the Sweet 16, and a Big East title — but have accomplishments of their own.

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On the road last Thursday, BC defeated Notre Dame for the first time since 2006, and boasts one of the strongest scoring offenses in the ACC, averaging 78.5 points per game before Sunday’s loss.

“[Inglese] is the face of Boston College women’s basketball,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “She had this program going to year in, year out, NCAA tournaments. Her teams were gritty, played hard, were well-prepared, and they really exuded the passion and love that she had for the game.

“That’s something that we’re really trying to get back to.”