Women’s Basketball: 2016-17 Critical Turning Point for Program

By: Eric Getzoff

Coming into the season, head coach Katy Steding was hoping for an improvement from her first two years as coach of the BU women’s basketball team.  In 2014-2015 the Terriers finished 5-25 with two conference wins.  In 2015-2016 they did worse: 3 wins total – all of them in-conference victories.  They finished last in the Patriot league both seasons.

How would the 2016-2017 season go for Steding?  She was hoping for that old saying: third time’s the charm.

And charm it was.

The Terriers won 13 games this season, easily more than the previous two seasons’ combined win totals.  Top that off with 11 conference wins and the Terriers’ 2016-2017 season no doubt was a success.  Their final record: 13-17, 11-7; good for a tie for fourth-place in the final Patriot league standings.

BU’s season didn’t start out the way they hoped it would.  They lost nine of their first ten games, including a 71-42 trouncing at #24 Arizona State and a 76-57 loss at Marist.  The Terriers’ average scoring margin through their first ten games was -15 points per game.

After the loss to Marist on December 10th, the script flipped to the Terriers’ favor.  They won three games in a row, including two victories against in-state rivals Massachusetts and Holy Cross.

The Terriers kept to their winning ways after the calendar flipped to 2017, winning at Lehigh on January 2, 69-64, which improved their conference record to 3-0  in conference play.  The Terriers didn’t get their third conference win last year until February 17th.

After a 3-5 stretch from January 6th to February 2nd, the Terriers were 6-5 in the Patriot League (8-10 overall) with seven conference games remaining.  A top-four finish in the conference standings was within reach for BU.  The last time they finished top-four was 2012-2013, when they were still in the America East conference.

As early February saw the Patriots’ win the Super Bowl, the winning ways continued in Boston, spreading down Commonwealth Avenue.

With great play from Sarah Hope and Sophie Beaudry, the Terriers won four games in a row from February 4th to February 15th, with no win being decided by less than nine points.  It was during this stretch that they put up their largest points in a regulation game: 75 points in February 4th’s victory at Lafayette.  (They scored 87 points in a 96-87 double-overtime loss at Colgate on January 18th.)

Beaudry and Hope were huge for the Terriers during this stretch.  Beaudry averaged 13.75 points over this stretch, and Hope averaged 16.5 points.

BU was now 9-5 in the Patriot League and resembled nothing of their 1-9 start.  With four conference games remaining, however, the Terriers had to know the toughest part of their schedule was approaching.

Up next was Bucknell once and Army twice; the former holding a record of 23-5 overall and 12-2 in conference and the latter coming off a 5-1 streak over their previous six games, and holding a record of 20-8 overall and 10-5 in conference.

The Terriers managed to squeak out one win in the three games: a 66-62 win at Army in the final game of the regular season.  Add in a 68-56 victory against Holy Cross at Case Gym, and the Terriers finished the regular season with a 13-17 (11-7 PL) record.

A top-four finish would have given BU a home game in the first round of the Patriot League tournament, but they lost the tiebreaker to American, meaning they would play on the road at American in the first round of the PL postseason tournament.

So, they traveled down to the nation’s Capital to take on those Eagles.

But they didn’t play their best game that night, and they fell to American 57-51.  Sarah Hope, who broke the school record for career 3-pointers during the season, shot 2-14 from the field and the Eagles out-shot the Terriers from behind the arc in the Terriers’ loss, 40.0% to 23.1%.

Though they didn’t advance past the first-round of the Patriot League postseason tournament, the Terriers have to be happy with how their season finished.  Now, the test will be to build off this season’s success and to lay the foundation for even better results next season.

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