By: Alex Smith
In their first game of the Patriot League season, the Terriers didn’t show up to play out of the gate. Sophie Beaudry tipped it back to Sarah Hope, who promptly turned it over just seconds into BU’s opening possession.
A minute and another turnover later, Holy Cross splashed in a triple to make it 5-0. Coach Steding had seen enough, and burned her first timeout earlier than any coach would want.
Whatever she said in the huddle, Sarah Hope heard it loud and clear. The senior guard took over the remainder of the frame, scoring 16 points on 4-6 shooting from behind the line. As the Crusader defense prioritized protecting the lane, Hope was in as much space as she’s ever been, and made Holy Cross pay for their negligence.
Splashing in one three then another, she then mixed in a floater, showing her ability to get her shot at will. Even for a player of her calibre, a 16-point first quarter eruption was surreal. Her efforts saw the Terriers head into the second quarter with a 24-15 lead they’d carry the rest of the way.
The second quarter saw freshman Nia Irving register her first career point from a free-throw. Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Maine impressed in her first meaningful minutes, scoring 8 points to go with 5 boards in 19 minutes of play. She lived at the high post, and showed range knocking down a jumper as well as the ability to attack off the bounce. She also took two charges in the game despite committing four fouls.
The pace slowed down in quarters two and three, and it was BU’s defense that allowed them to maintain control. The Crusaders figured out they should probably not leave Sarah Hope open, which did slow down BU’s torrid scoring pace.
Holy Cross scored just 18 points across the middle frames, and BU’s defending of Infiniti Thomas-Waheed, Holy Cross’ leading scorer, was spectacular. The former Patriot League second-teamer was held to just 5 points on an abysmal 1-12 shooting. Without her continuous stream of buckets, the Crusaders could not keep pace.
Holy Cross did mount a late comeback attempt midway through the fourth, cutting it to single digits at 58-49 with 2:30 to go, but it was as close as they’d get. Holy Cross is a team with six freshman, and it showed as 12 first-half turnovers and sloppy defending cost them. They lacked urgency even after cutting the game down to a manageable deficit, and the late comeback was too little, too late.
With the 66-49 win, BU sealed back-to-back victories for the first time since 2014. Missing key starter Corinne Williams, the Terriers showed fire out of the gate (after the first sixty seconds) and never let the lead slip away. The emergence of Nia Irving couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Terriers lost Meg Green to the injury bug as well. Suddenly the freshman figures to be a key piece moving forward, and she looks ready to step into that role earlier than expected.
As they were the only early game, the Terriers stand alone atop the Patriot League at 1-0. They seem ready to turn heads, and what remains to be seen is how high this group’s ceiling is when they’re all healthy.