By: Liam O’Brien
The Boston University women’s basketball team tasted defeat for the first time since November 21 in a 80-52 loss to Marist College on Saturday afternoon. The Terriers (5-3) will attempt to wash the feeling away as they return to Case Gym for their second consecutive home game on Wednesday night, welcoming the University of Central Florida to town.
“We are anticipating a very fast paced, scrappy game against UCF,” said junior guard Payton Hauck. “They are very athletic, and have the same trapping defense we have, practically.”
The contest marks the second all-time meeting between the two squads. BU took the first, beating UCF by a margin of 69-59 back in December 1984.
The Knights (5-4) enter the contest having won three of their last four games. The squad swept IUPUI and University of Northern Iowa in the UCF Thanksgiving Classic over the holiday break. Following the back-to-back wins, UCF rebounded after a seven-point loss to Samford University with a 62-38 shellacking of Georgia Southern University on Sunday.
UCF had their way with the Eagles throughout the contest, leading 11-0 before Georgia Southern could put cream in their coffee. The Knights limited their opponent to three points in the first eight minutes of the game and 18 in the second half en route to the win.
Georgia Southern shot just 25 percent from the field and an abysmal 18.2 percent from 3-point range. UCF forced 16 turnovers, which translated to 12 extra points, signaling a defensive tenacity the Terriers will need to look out for on Wednesday night.
BU has struggled with turnover problems all season, and Saturday’s debacle against the Red Foxes was no exception. The Terriers turned the ball over on 17 occasions, leading to 24 Marist points. In their three losses this season, BU has coughed up the rock an average of 18 times per game.
Defensively, BU will need to account for a duo of dangerous senior guards both putting up 14.8 points per game. Aliyah Gregory and Zakiya Sanders have combined for nearly 30 points per night this season with each shooting over 41 percent from the field.
Georgia Southern received the blunt of these scorers’ wrath. Each put up 16 points on the Eagles with incredible efficiency. Gregory’s seven made field goals came on just eight attempts, while Sanders needed just two more shots to make seven herself.
“I think we really need to focus on our defensive concepts to match the physical aspect of their game,” Hauck said. “We can be a pretty scrappy team, definitely in our press if we show up ready.”
A native Bostonian also sits on UCF’s roster, a primary motivator in this game being played at Case Gym. Freshman forward Masseny Kaba is notorious in the Boston hoops community, having been a Boston Herald All-Scholastic selection for all four years at Cathedral High School in the South End. She put up 41 points in a single game in her sophomore year of high school before earning Boston Globe Player of the Year honors two seasons later.
After finishing her high school career with consecutive Division 4 state titles, Kaba has continued the positive momentum into her college tenure. She is currently averaging 5.3 points-per-game, good for fifth best on the team, while putting up 5.8 rebounds per outing, the second-highest average on the Knights squad.
The Terriers will need to step up on the boards to stop the six-foot-three Kaba from reaching her nightly average. Although this statistic was inflated due to BU’s 42 missed field goals, Marist garnered 43 rebounds to the Terriers’ 36 in Saturday’s game. UCF has been among the best in the American Athletic Conference in rebounding differential, out-boarding opponents by 3.1 per game.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Boston University’s Case Gym.