By: Rusty Gorelick
Boston University women’s basketball hosted the University of Delaware Blue Hens in a nonconference matinee on Sunday afternoon. The Terriers won 72-61 and move to 4-2 on the season and 4-0 at the Roof in the early season.
Coming off a big 60-39 win against New Hampshire, the Terriers started their sixth game of the season in a 2-3 zone while the Blue Hens came out in a 3-2. BU took advantage of the lack of numbers down low for the visitors early, as they scored 18 points in the paint in the first half of action.
Point guard Katie Nelson dominated for BU and catalyzed their hot start, hitting each of her first four attempts from three-point territory. Chiara Tibbitt, Payton Hauck, and Lauren Spearman each chipped in with six first-half points as well.
The Terriers led 37-24 after the first two quarters of play. An 8-3 run in the middle of the first quarter helped the home team build their lead, and a balanced scoring effort helped the team maintain it.
BU had four players in double-figures, and that balanced scoring effort helped them build their lead early. Nelson filled the stat sheet with a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds and six assists. Payton Hauck contributed 11 points, 10 boards, and four assists, and Nia Irving had 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Terriers prioritized a balanced offense on Sunday, both in the sense of letting every player take her fair share of shots as well as mixing it up between bully ball in the post, slashing, and shooting from deep.
“We knew that they were going to zone us, and so we tried to really spread them out and then get a high post cutter,” coach Marisa Moseley of BU said after the game. “Inside-out against a zone is always effective, too, so we just wanted to take what the defense gave us.”
Makeda Nicholas, a Delaware’s standout 6-foot-1 graduate student forward, kept the Blue Hens in the game early on. Coach Natasha Adair ran her team’s offense through Nicholas at the elbow and overloaded one side of BU’s zone defense, and it caused BU plenty of issues when the Blue Hens executed well.
Nicholas had the biggest impact among Delaware players, finishing the game with 18 points. The visitors ran their offense through her for the most part: coach Natasha Adair sat Nicholas at the elbow and had players cut off of her, and BU had some trouble dealing with the tall forward’s turnaround jumper. The only other Blue Hen in double-figures was Abby Gonzales, who went 4-9 from beyond the arc.
For BU, Nelson and Lauren Spearman lit it up from three-point range: they shot a combined 6-11 making all of the Terriers’ threes for the game. The team as a whole shot 46.2 percent from three and 48.1 percent from the field, and their efficient shooting made up for the 20 turnovers BU committed against Delaware.
Despite the win, BU allowed 17 points off their 20 turnovers and 21 second-chance points.
“We didn’t handle [their pressure] great at first,” said Moseley, ” but we made some adjustments, we actually ran our press break, so that was helpful, but a lot of the time we have unforced turnovers, and so that’s frustrating to me because those are opportunities where we’re not even getting shots at the basket.”
Boston University certainly made the most of the shots they did have, as they made two more field goals than their opponents despite taking 17 fewer attempts.
The hosts, and Katie Nelson in particular, could get just about anywhere they wanted to against the Delaware defense. The sophomore guard led by example and her coach noticed her well-rounded performance which led the Terriers to their fourth win in four games at the Case Gym this season.
“Our guard play has been really good from three. [Nelson] stepped up tonight and made some big shots that she hadn’t been to this point, so that was great to see, said Moseley. Also, with her being able to distribute the ball, I think she had control and command of the game the whole time.”
Nelson averaged 8.4 points per game entering this contest, and her 19-point outburst will give her confidence as Patriot League action approaches. With the 5-foot-8 guard asserting herself like a true go-to scorer and passer, the Terriers should keep looking to Nelson to lead the team offensively if she stays at this level.
The scarlet and white next travel to Hanover, New Hampshire to face off against Dartmouth on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Tip-off between the Terriers and the Big Green is set for noon.