The No. 15/17 St. John’s University Red Storm saw shades of scarlet Saturday when they visited Case Gymnasium. The Boston University women’s basketball team upset them, 66–49, for its first win over a ranked opponent since Jan. 18, 2010.
The victory came thanks to a strong BU (5–3) effort from both ends of the court. BU maintained offensive pressure and performed unprecedentedly well defensively. It was no accident, as the preparation required a substantial effort.
“I don’t think that there was anything about them that we did not know,” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg. “Our players were really, really physically and mentally ready and focused.”
The game did not start in BU’s favor, but the home team quickly turned it around. After losing tipoff and going down 5–3 early on, the Terriers ended the Red Storm’s (4–2) largest lead of the night with a 3-pointer from senior guard Chantell Alford.
Two subsequent free throws from senior guard Mo Moran extended BU’s lead to three, a lead it never lost. After 10 minutes of play, the score was 17–7. Five minutes later, it was 29–13. At the half, the Terriers were up, 34–18.
At that point, the Terriers held the Red Storm’s highest scorer, guard Shenneika Smith, to five total points.
They held the entire opposing team to 26.7 percent conversion of all field goals and 20 percent from beyond the arc, compared to the Terriers’ 42.9 percent and 66.7 percent, respectively.
The Terriers also outrebounded their opponents, 22–17.
Five different players scored, including Alford, who already reached double digits with 14 points at the half.
“I really think that’s one our strengths, being able to share the ball,” said senior captain Danielle Callahan. “The great thing about playing on this team is that no one really cares who gets the shot … whoever is making just keeps shooting.”
After the break, both teams changed strategies and made adjustments, but the difference in the score did not move much.
Both sides got a layup apiece almost immediately, one from BU junior forward Rashidat Agboola and one from Red Storm forward Amber Thompson. However, a 3-pointer from Alford followed by a field goal from Moran stopped any momentum for the away team.
As the clock wound down and the Red Storm were not any closer to making a comeback, they initiated a full-court press with more than 13 minutes remaining. While the Terriers’ inside game was not affected much by the pressure — they actually took a 22-point lead, their largest of the night, with a layup from Agboola soon after the change — their 3-point game was essentially shut down.
“We were eight-for-12 from three in the first half, which was just wonderful,” Greenberg said. “They came out with more pressure in the second half. I’m sure their coach was saying, ‘Don’t let them shoot the three anymore,’ which was fine … we were still strong on the ball.”
To counter the aggressive play from SJU, BU slowed down its plays. It took up about the entire shot clock on every possession and scored mostly in the paint. The defense also maintained consistent stops.
With about six minutes left, the score sat at 57–40.
The only disruption of the flow of play at that point in the half was when Agboola left the game due to an ankle injury but returned shortly after.
Then, for the first time in the game, freshman guard Katie Poppe stepped on the court.
She scored less than a minute later.
Poppe has played less than 30 total minutes on the season, but by game’s end, she had four points and a rebound.
“We’re really excited about Katie,” Greenberg said. “She’s pretty fearless … she has been getting in a little bit each game, and [those minutes are] really well-deserved.”
Despite going over the foul limit in the second half, BU coasted to a win with a 17-point lead. At the end of the game, BU had more rebounds, more assists and a higher conversion rate than SJU.
“We really talk a lot about — since our Northeastern loss [on Nov. 20th] — about always making sure that we’re the more excited team to play that night,” Greenberg said. “I really thought we were from the get go. I’m just really, really proud of every single one of our players.”