By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA– Lafayette College star Natalie Kucowski stood at the charity stripe with 1.5 seconds left, needing one make to tie the contest. But unlike the sophomore’s first seven conversions, the fateful free throw bounced multiple times before falling off the rim and into the hands of BU’s Nia Irving, sealing a victory for the Terriers.
In a gritty, defensive game, Boston University came out on top Wednesday against the Leopards, holding on 50-49. The Terriers improved to 14-12 on the season and 10-6 in Patriot League play, maintaining third place in the conference standings. The Leopards fell to 7-20 and sit at just 2-14 in the Patriot League.
Both teams started slow out of the gate, with turnovers and contested shots characterizing much of the first half. Despite shooting just 21 percent as a team in the second quarter, BU stayed in the game thanks to a bevy of unforced errors from the Leopards. Heading into halftime, Lafayette had already committed ten turnovers, only three of which were Terrier steals.
However, BU sprung out of the break with a flurry of scoring, led by senior guard Payton Hauck. She scored ten of her team-high sixteen points in the third, driving through contact to convert three tough layups. The Terriers closed out the quarter on an 11-1 run to put the squad up 44-35.
But the Leopards countered with their own run in the final quarter. After BU took a 46-35 edge, Lafayette scored thirteen straight to wrestle back the lead.
Terrier head coach Marisa Moseley explained that after such a run, the team must remember to “keep our composure.”
“[We can] talk about what just happened, but then we have to let it go to make sure we execute and finish the game,” Moseley said. “At that point, it’s just that we have to get a stop and we have to get a score.”
Moseley’s team did just that. With 2:12 left to play, Senior Lauren Spearman hoisted up the deciding three-pointer, giving the Terriers a 50-47 advantage. Two minutes of scoreless basketball ensued before the pivotal free throws.
To her credit, Kucowski showed out at Case Gym, scoring 22 points while adding 14 rebounds and six blocks, albeit with ten turnovers. The sophomore has been on a tear in the Patriot League, as Wednesday’s game was her thirteenth double-double on the year.
On the Terrier side, freshman Riley Childs played one of the best games of her young collegiate career. Childs scored 14 points, grabbed 13 boards, dished out three assists and nabbed three steals, all without committing a turnover.
The forward also shot an efficient 6-12 from the field and made one of her two three-point attempts, nailing a long two-pointer as well. Childs has shown noticeable improvement in her shooting during the past few games, something Coach Moseley attributes to rising confidence.
“It makes us a much more dangerous team,” Moseley said, “because they can’t sag in on Irv [Nia Irving] as much… For Riley to be able to step out and make shots, and take people off the bounce, it’s really important for our success on the floor.”
With Wednesday’s victory, BU clinched a winning Patriot League conference record for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Additionally, the squad has locked in a record of at least .500, a feat never accomplished since joining the conference.
These achievements may be impressive for a first-year head coach, but for Moseley, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done up to this point,” she said, “but I’m not satisfied. I definitely want more.”
Boston University will get their next chance for more when they travel to their final regular season road game against Army. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.