By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA — Led by an impressive two-way performance from forward Riley Childs, Boston University women’s basketball fended off powerhouse Bucknell University at home on Saturday. Despite a strong second half charge from the top-ranked Bison (15-6, 8-2 PL), BU secured a 52-48 victory and improved to 11-10 on the year (6-4 PL).
The win was a milestone of sorts for the Terriers; they had not defended Case Gym against Bucknell since way back in 2014. For Marisa Moseley and her team, the triumph shows that her players are capable of high standards.
“This is an expectation,” said “Moseley. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that you come to BU and you just roll over them. We expect to win no matter who the opponent is.”
Childs led the way on the scoreboard and the glass, giving BU 18 points and 11 boards by carving up Bucknell with a smooth stroke and tough drives.
“Today my shot was falling, so that was good to see,” she said. “Towards the end of the game I was better going to the basket, so I was just trying to get to the rim especially when the shot clock was winding down.
The sophomore has struggled to score this season, but over the last two games Childs has shot 14-25 (56 percent) from the field and 3-4 from downtown. When she’s confident in her stroke, Childs can force defenders to close out, opening up lanes for attack.
“She wants it so bad and sometimes when you do, you press a little bit, and tonight she let the game come to her,” Moseley said. “Once some of those outside shots went in her confidence started to build, and you could see that throughout the game.”
Childs, Maren Durant and Nia Irving had their work cut out for them. Bucknell’s physical, versatile frontcourt duo of Tessa Brugler and conference player of the year frontrunner Ellie Mack proved an imposing challenge. Mack finished with 19 points despite a few different looks thrown her way. Brugler managed 10 points and six rebounds, but got into foul trouble late.
“We knew coming in we were gonna have to be the more physical team,” said Childs. “There were times we could have been a little bit more physical. For me, I just knew I had to step up and play as tough as I could.”
BU threw a bunch of zone defensive looks at Bucknell in an effort to curb their electric three-point shooting. They also tried to inhibit Mack from taking over in one-on-one situations.
“We slowed them down and were able to drop back into our zone, which kind of neutralized their one-on-one,” Moseley said. “We were able to pack in the zone and take some of her isolations away.”
Freshman sharpshooter Maggie Pina bounced back from an inefficient road outing to score 15 points on only nine shot attempts. Joining her in double figures was senior Nia Irving, whose 11 points off the bench came in 32 minutes off the bench.
Irving has battled injuries, and the 32 minutes of action are her highest total since December 21.
“Being out a couple games, for her to come back and contribute the way she did was great, too,” Moseley said.
The Terriers got off to a scorching 16-4 start, but Bucknell reeled the game back in once Mack started to find a rhythm. The Bison even stole the lead briefly in the fourth quarter when a Mack triple but them up 48-46, but BU countered with a 6-0 run to close out the contest.
“For us to be able to come back from that and tie it up and go ahead,” Moseley said, “I think that’s a huge step for our team. We’re young and we’ve been talking all year about how our guys have gotta grow up, and I think we’re starting to see that.”
BU has now won three straight narrow conference matchups. The team has a bye on Wednesday, but road games against Holy Cross and Colgate loom on the schedule.
“These past three wins have been huge, and we’re just trying to push through,” Childs said. “Building off this is gonna give us great momentum.”
The first contest, at Holy Cross, is slated for next Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Featured image courtesy of Hannah Yoshinaga.