Behind a late-game surge from Katie Nelson, the Boston University women’s basketball team turned a subpar first half into a triumphant 62-56 victory over Army to close out the regular season.
With the win, the Terriers secured the second seed in the Patriot League playoffs. BU enters the playoffs with a 12-6 record in Patriot League play and a 17-12 record overall. Army finished the regular season with a 4-14 conference record, good for ninth place, and an 8-21 mark on the season.
Nelson picked up the slack when the Terriers’ lead over the Black Knights crumbled at the end of the second quarter. The junior point guard scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half and finished the game with eight total assists, tying her season high.
Freshman guard Maggie Pina kept the Terriers in the game during the first half. Pina scored 13 of her 19 points in the first quarter alone and hit two key three-pointers early on to throw the Mids’ defense off balance.
“I think that we were able to attack a little more in the second half because Maggie Pina had a great first half hitting a lot of shots, so they were manning up a little closer on her, opening the lane up a little bit more,” Nelson said.
Both Nelson and Pina’s willingness to attack the basket and battle through contact in the second half put Army’s conference-worst defense to the test.
“They just had another gear to be able to get by there and finish in traffic,” said head coach Marisa Moseley. “Katie had a couple that just — the whole sea opened and it was right down the middle, but having that mindset ripple through them is huge for us.”
While the Terriers put up yet another comeback performance, their early stumbles on both ends of the court had them in a difficult position heading into the break.
BU could not stop Army from raining threes in the first half, and the Black Knights went 7-of-13 from deep. Natalie Stralkus hit four of her five threes in the first half alone, and Alisa Fallon remained a strong presence in the backcourt.
“We made some really undisciplined fouls and ticky-tack stuff, and that just takes us out of our rhythm,” Moseley said. “What makes them really good is everybody on the floor can shoot threes, so it’s not like you can just help off of somebody or key in on one person, and they really neutralize Maren’s size when [they are] playing five-out.”
BU’s 18 total turnovers, 10 of which came in the first half, were another issue. The Terriers have largely avoided messy giveaways since their 28-turnover performance against Colgate last month, but they struggled to stay in control on several possessions.
In spite of their mistakes, the Terriers once again demonstrated their ability to close out games. Moseley hopes that BU’s toughness in crunch time will prove helpful come playoff time next week.
“That’s really a huge benefit for us because it’s not like we’ve just blown people out every single game,” Moseley said. “Because once you get in the tournament, everybody knows everyone and those games are generally really close and you’re gonna have to be able to make plays.”
In addition to their ability to pack a punch in the final minutes of a game, the Terriers will rely on one of their other strengths—their talented young core. While the BU freshmen have absorbed several minutes throughout the regular season, they will need to apply that experience to the high-pressure environment of the postseason.
“I think the biggest thing is our youth, understanding that now it’s one and done and that’s it,” Moseley said. “There’s not a tomorrow, so getting them to understand the gravity of the situation, and at the same time, being really confident that we’re in control of our own destiny.”
The Terriers have a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Navy-American game on Monday at 6:00 p.m. at Case Center. BU split its regular season series against the Mids and Eagles, although the games they won were both at home.
Featured image by Hannah Yoshinaga.