By: Andrew Mason
BOSTON — With 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s clash with Lehigh, BU sophomore forward Nia Irving (17 points and eight rebounds) took the ball to the rack and scored, giving the Terriers their first lead – 52-51 – since the first period.
Case Gym exploded, as it looked as if BU was going to ride the momentum to a victory and break their five-game losing streak. Lehigh had other plans.
After the Terriers blew a wide open fast-break opportunity, the Mountain Hawks finished on a 14-4 run, committing no turnovers and going 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the final five minutes to win 65-56. The loss moves BU to 8-13 overall (3-8 in Patriot League play), and pushes the Terriers to six straight games without a win.
Irving’s near double-double led the scarlet and white on the offensive end. While the team’s free throw woes persisted with a BU total of 8-of-16 (on a season average of 63.5 percent), Irving did her part, knocking down 5-of-6 from the charity stripe to go with 6-of-9 from the field. The Fairfield, Maine native continues to lead the squad with 11.8 points and 6.7 boards per game
Senior Corrine Williams racked up 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with five rebounds. The co-captain has now scored an average of 12.8 points over the last five contests. On Saturday, Williams got her scoring off at the 5:54 mark of quarter number two after a stellar big-to-big pass from center Sophie Beaudry (one steal, one assist).
“The play wasn’t drawn up,” Williams said. “[My defender] usually leaves to double down on Sophie and we practice dive and fill all the time. I made a smart cut but Sophie made a great pass which led to an easy score.”
Freshman Katie Nelson had a quiet game shooting, but one of her most all-around games in a Terrier uniform. The two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week grabbed just four points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field, but reeled in five assists and six boards.
Perhaps most impressive was Nelson’s ability to protect the ball, something she’s struggled with all year. With a season average of 3.9 turnovers per contest, the Falmouth, Mass. native lost the rock just once despite playing 39 minutes.
This also marked the fourth game since BU’s four-year head coach Katy Steding decided to switch things up and install a simple “drive-and-kick” style offense. Although the Terriers have yet to win a game after shaking things up offensively, Williams believes it is still the best route for her team to take.
“I love the dribble drive,” Williams said. “I think it takes pressure off of players to score because it draws a lot of double teams for easy kick-outs or open driving lanes. Our offense flows better and there is more motion to it.”
One player who has seemed to adapt well to Steding’s new system is junior guard Naiyah Thompson. On Saturday, Thompson’s 4-of-9 shooting left her with 11 points in addition to three rebounds. She also tallied one assist, one block and one steal.
As a team, BU knocked down just over 43 percent of their shots, up from their team average of about 40 percent. Despite being seeded in 9th place in the Patriot League, the Terriers’ shooting percentage ranks fourth overall.
Defensively, the scarlet and white kept Lehigh’s leading scorer in check throughout the first quarter. But soon senior Quinci Mann was able to heat up, finding herself in the midst of yet another efficient outing. Mann finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, knocking down three buckets from beyond the 3-point line.
Now riding the longest losing streak since January 2016, BU needs to put a stop to the bleeding. Although all 10 teams in the Patriot League will reach the March tournament, a positive finish to the regular season would help the Terriers’ chances from having to face a top-ranked opponent on the road in the first round.
The Terriers will stay at Case Gym, where they have now lost seven of their last eight, for Wednesday’s battle against the PL’s worst team, the 4-18 Colgate Raiders. In fact, BU’s last victory came at Colgate on Jan. 11 by a score of 62-49 in Hamilton, N.Y. However, Williams says her squad knows the danger of underestimating a conference foe.
“[The Raiders] play very aggressive even for a team with no wins, and they are hungry for one,” she said. “The best thing for us is to come out like it’s another game, record means nothing – look at our record.”
After seeing major early success with this team, Williams believes BU still has it in them to be one of the PL’s best.
“Our ranking doesn’t reflect how good we are, we can beat any team in the league. We need to come out confident in our ability, not because of the record of the opponent,” Williams confirmed.
The 9th place Terriers will take on the 10th seeded Colgate Raiders on Feb. 7 at 7:00 p.m. on the campus of BU.