Terriers defeat UMBC with efficient first-half offense and stout defense

On a very emotional Senior Day, the Boston University women’s basketball team came away with a convincing 72-51 victory against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County at Case Gym Saturday afternoon.

Before the game, the Terriers (23-5, 13-2 America East) honored the team’s four seniors: Guards Mo Moran, Chantell Alford and Kristen Sims, along with forward Jacqueline Kuczynski, who has been inactive this season due to injury.

From the opening tip, the Terriers came out with a fast-paced offense and tough defense, getting out to an early lead. Moran connected on a jumper to open the scoring, and junior forward Rashidat Agboola added a pull-up jump shot a minute later. Alford stole the ball from UMBC (10-17, 6-8 America East) forward Kim Browning 23 seconds later, and made a free throw to extend the BU lead to 5-0.  A layup from Moran pushed the score to 7-0 3:10 into the game. The Retrievers did not score until guard Raven Harris made a layup 3:25 into the half.

“It’s always nice to jump out and get a lead early, there’s no doubt about it,” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg.

The Retrievers eventually tied the game at 9-9, but the Terriers never allowed UMBC to take the lead.

The Terriers extended their lead to 24-14, at the 12:50 mark of the half, and went into halftime with a 30-20 lead. BU went 13-for-30 in the first, shooting a modest 43 percent from the field.

“In the first half we really didn’t build a big lead, they were still sticking around,” Alford said. “We just had to be patient with our offense and we upped the intensity on defense.”

The second half began with a flurry of missed shots, and neither team scored until Alford made three free throws, which gave BU a 33-20 lead. UMBC guard Kristin Coles made a layup 26 seconds later for the first field goal of the half.

The Retrievers came within seven points 9:42 into the frame after a 3-pointer by guard Kayla Seymour, but Alford responded with a three of her own to extend the Terrier lead back to double digits.

From then on, the Retrievers came back within single digits just once, when they cut the deficit to 50-42 at the 10:34 mark of the second half. But they proceeded to not make a field goal for nearly six minutes. At that point, the Terriers jumped out to a 65-46 lead, and it was too late for the Retrievers to make a comeback. BU went on to win 72-51.

Alford finished her Senior Day game leading all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting while also adding five assists and two rebounds.  It was her second straight game scoring more than 20 points. Moran finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Sims, who is averaging just over seven points per game, struggled shooting from the field, going 1-for-5 and finishing with three points.

Agboola came close to yet another double-double, whose nine points and eight boards anchored the Terriers’ front court, which was outscored by the Retrievers in the paint by a convincing 28-16 margin.  The Terriers did, however, outscore UMBC in the second-chance points department, 10-6.

“We just wanted to come out here and play like we know how to play, and we were able to do that today,” Alford said. “It was just a big win on a big day.”

The Terriers returned from the break missing their first three field goals, but they went on to make an 8-0 run halfway through the second half to solidify their victory. They shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the second, finishing at 48 percent on the game, while also shooting just under 35 percent from beyond the arc.

Defensively, BU was able to hold the fourth-ranked offense in the America East Conference to 19-for-60 (31 percent) from the floor and force the Retrievers to commit 10 turnovers.

In their previous meeting this season in Baltimore, the Terriers also had success defensively against the Retrievers, as they held them to 32 percent from the field.

“It’s always important having played them once before because it’s a tough team to score 70 points on,” Greenberg said. “[The Retrievers are] so deliberate, they just want to stand there and dribble and take time off the clock … it’s hard whenever you play a team like that.”

Harris led UMBC in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting, while her classmate, Coles, neared a double-double by scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

“It was interesting to start, but we really came around to bring some energy to the court and to the gym,” Greenberg said.

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