By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA — Despite an impressive debut from freshman guard Sydney Johnson, Boston University women’s basketball dropped their opening contest on Friday against a Marist team that furiously protected its lead all night.
The 75-89 defeat versus the MAAC’s preseason title pick showed that while this year’s Terriers have a lot of promising talent, it will take time for the group to sync up on the court.
“We still need to work on some of our shot selection and … get our nerves under control,” head coach Marisa Moseley said postgame.
The most impressive BU performance came via Johnson’s first collegiate game. The Georgia native started alongside floor general Katie Nelson in the backcourt, and though she displayed the understandable first-game nerves early on, Johnson improved noticeably over the course of the night. She finished with an impressive 21 points, four assists and two steals.
“I was definitely nervous,” Johnson said of her first contest. “I think that showed in the first couple quarters — taking maybe some wild shots.”
“But definitely as the game progressed, I got a lot more comfortable.”
Johnson was not the only freshman to impact the box score. Forward Annabelle Larnard also earned her first start in a Terrier uniform, tallying 11 points, five rebounds and three steals on the night. In limited playing time, Maggie Pina and Maren Durant added three points apiece.
“We’ve got some talented freshmen,” Moseley said. “That experience is only going to help.”
The Terriers got off to a slow start offensively in the first quarter as the Marist defense proved formidable. BU went just 4-of-15 from the floor and fell into a hole early as the Red Foxes used a 14-0 run to stretch the gap, which reached 23-9 early in the second quarter.
BU battled back to cut the deficit to six late in the first half, but ultimately went into the break down ten. The team continued to fight and played much better in the second half, coming within seven multiple times, but the Red Foxes staved off every run.
Outside of the freshman, the rest of the starting lineup also reach double-digit points. Katie Nelson scored 14, Riley Childs contributed ten, and Nia Irving put together her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 boards. But altogether the Terriers were just too inefficient too often on offense.
“We had some bright spots,” Moseley said. “We gotta be able to get stops and scores.”
Senior superstars carried the torch for Marist. Guard Rebekah Hand lit up Case Gym for 27 points on just 14 shots while grabbing eight rebounds. Forward Alana Gilmer, meanwhile, dissected the paint for the Red Foxes, notching 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Toss in 2018-19 All-MAAC Third Team member and redshirt senior Grace Vander-Weide, who dropped 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and those three accounted for over two thirds of the Red Foxes’ scoring.
The experience and consistency of the leading Marist players became one of the game’s X-factors, but it also served as a valuable learning opportunity for a young Terrier team.
“You can’t sleep on defense — everybody has to be alert,” Johnson said of defending these high-caliber players.
And though the first game of BU’s season obviously did not go as desired, Coach Moseley recognizes that the final score of this non-conference matchup is less important than the development that stems from Friday night.
“This is game one,” she said. “Obviously, you want a W, but ultimately you’re trying to play for the end of the year and continue to get better, and that’s what non-conference is about.”
Featured Image courtesy of Brady Gardner.