By: Hannah Yoshinaga
The Boston University women’s basketball team built an early lead but couldn’t hold on late in the game, dropping their Patriot League opener against Lafayette 59-57.
Freshman guard Maggie Pina tied the game with only 12 seconds remaining, but a buzzer-beating jumper by Nicole Johnson sealed the win for Lafayette. It was the sixth consecutive time that the matchup between the Terriers (5-7) and Leopards (5-6) was decided by five or fewer points.
Despite poor shooting by her teammates, Pina kept BU in the game and hit several key shots down the stretch. Her 26 points were a career high and she sank five triples. In the fourth quarter, she made three of the Terriers’ final four buckets, scoring seven points in two and a half minutes.
The rest of the Terriers didn’t fare well on offense. After going a combined 25-of-43 on three-pointers in their last two contests, BU went silent from deep against the Leopards. Sharpshooting junior point guard Katie Nelson made only two threes all night and finished with eight points.
The Terriers struggled even more inside the arc. They shot 29.4% on two-pointers and allowed Lafayette defenders to put up eight blocks. Primary post scorer Nia Irving was held to one field goal and four rebounds in 23 minutes.
Neither team shot particularly well in the first quarter, but the Terriers outlasted the Leopards and went to the break with a 17-11 lead. They built their lead as high as nine points midway through the second before Lafayette went on a 10-0 run to regain the lead. The Leopards’ offense didn’t slow down for the rest of the game and they scored 36 points over the final two periods.
The Terriers had no answer for Lafayette forward and Patriot League Player of the Week Natalie Kucowski, who scored 23 points. Kucowski, who ranks second nationally in rebounds per game, controlled the glass and grabbed a career-best 23 rebounds. Drew Freeland added 10 points and four assists.
On the bright side, the Terriers held their opponent to fewer than 60 points for the third straight game. BU defenders were able to force 15 Lafayette turnovers, nine of which came from Kucowski. Freshman guard Sydney Johnson stole the ball four times, including a key steal which gave Pina a chance to tie the game with only 16 seconds remaining.
BU’s defensive performance bodes well for their next conference matchup against the turnover-prone American University Eagles. The Eagles committed 16 giveaways in their conference opener against Colgate on Tuesday.
The Terriers face American at home on Sunday, with tip-off at 2:00 p.m.