By: Andrew Mason
BOSTON — The Boston University women’s basketball team grabbed its most convincing win of the Patriot League season on Friday night, rolling by Loyola Maryland, 75-56, behind 21 points and seven rebounds from Nia Irving. The sophomore forward has led her squad in both categories for five of the last seven games, guiding BU to a 7-6 overall record and a 2-1 mark in Patriot League action.
Coming off three straight contests at Case Gym, the scarlet and white looked comfortable inside their home against the Greyhounds. After a 14-2 run late in the first quarter, BU grabbed a sizeable lead and never looked back.
“We had more energy going into this game than we had in previous games,” Irving said. “That energy just kind of propelled us into a solid start.”
The Terriers put on their best shooting performance to date, with an outstanding 56.1 percent from the field. BU stayed disciplined with their shot selection, attempting only eight 3-pointers on the night. All four threes came from freshman Katie Nelson, who leads the team with 31 makes from deep on the year.
In addition, Nelson contributed 16 points, five assists and four rebounds. Center Sophie Beaudry scooped up 11 points, five boards and three blocks as she continues to be a reliable producer for BU.
Aside from the desire to break out of a mid-season slump – the Terriers had lost four of their last five games – Irving admitted that she felt the team had something a little extra to play for on Friday night.
“It was Kara [Sheftic]’s birthday, so we obviously wanted to get that win for her.”
On her birthday, Sheftic tallied nine points – four of five shooting – to go nicely with one board and an assist in 18 minutes of action. But perhaps her most memorable moment of the night was an emphatic block on an attempted Greyhound reverse-layup that Sheftic sent deep into the baseline.
Despite the demanding victory, the Terriers were dramatically outmatched in one area – offensive rebounding. While BU was able to haul in 10 offensive boards, Loyola snatched 24, which were converted into 17 second–chance points. The Terriers were able to make up for it elsewhere, as being on the wrong side of a margin that size is usually all but asking for a loss.
“We gave up way too many rebounds in general, and that shouldn’t be happening when our team is so athletic,” Irving noted. “It’s something that will be the focus point in our practices.”
BU also faced trouble in stopping Loyola sophomore Stephanie Karcz, who single-handedly kept any hope of a Greyhound comeback alive. Karcz was firing on all cylinders, tallying 23 points, 13 rebounds and five steals.
With classes still over a week away from resuming, the Terriers get set to embark on perhaps the toughest chapter of their schedule all season. Over the next nine days, BU plays three of four games on the road, each contest in a different state.
Aside from the strenuous travel, this stretch includes games against the three current PL leaders: Lehigh, American and Holy Cross.
“If we continue to stick to our strengths and just play our game while we’re on the road, we shouldn’t have a problem,” Irving said. “We should be in a good place.”
The Terriers first travel to Bethlehem, Penn. to take on Lehigh University. The Mountain Hawks sit at 8-6 overall, 2-1 in Patriot League play, and are coming off a 54-49 loss to Holy Cross last week. Tip-off is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. in Stabler Arena.