The Boston University women’s basketball team welcomed Patriot League powerhouse U.S. Naval Academy to Case GymnasiumWednesday night. Coming into the game, Navy had lost just one of its 10 conference contests this season.
Despite a valiant comeback attempt, BU (8-16, 3-8 Patriot League) had trouble producing for the full 40 minutes on the floor and surrendered the game to the Midshipmen (18-4, 10-1 Patriot League) by a score of 68-57.
The Terriers got on the scoreboard first with a jumper from junior forward Mollie McKendrick. The forward would finish the night with a double-double, recording 16 points and 12 rebounds.
An attempted counter from Navy was cut short when senior guard Danielle Callahan stole the ball, and freshman guard Sarah Hope went for the layup to put the Terriers up 4-0.
The Midshipmen, however, responded with a run of their own. With 13:38 remaining in the first half, Navy put up 14 unanswered points in the span of six-and-a-half minutes to take a 10-point lead over the Terriers.
Senior forward Whitney Turner ended the BU point drought by sinking a free throw a little under a minute later to shorten the deficit to single digits.
The Terriers were unable to score for the next two-and-a-half minutes until a jump shot from senior forward Rashidat Agboola ended the skid. Then, the team continued its struggles and could not find the net for another three minutes until Agboola hit another shot with 5:26 to go. Her second layup started a bit of a run for BU in the final six minutes of the half, a stretch that saw it put up 11 points to Navy’s seven.
The Terriers battled, but went into the locker room down 31-18. Although 13 points separated the two teams, BU’s offense looked like it was starting to come back to life. Unfortunately, Navy’s offense had only been stifled so much and, despite the Terriers being able to hold them at times, the Midshipmen were ultimately successful in putting points on the board.
By the end of the first half, BU was shooting just 26.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from the charity stripe. Navy posted a 34.3 percent field goal percentage and netted both of its free throw attempts in the opening 20 minutes of action.
“To start the game, [Navy] didn’t miss much, and we couldn’t make a shot,” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg. “We went to our zone, and I thought that changed the game drastically for us at the nine, 10 minute mark … We really finished the first half strong with our zone defense and kind of hit a few shots to get us going offensively.”
The Terriers opened the scoring in the second half as well, with Callahan hitting a 3-pointer. The Midshipmen were quick to respond, though, and extended their lead to 19 points, hitting three consecutive 3-point attempts within a minute-and-a-half stretch.
Despite the strong Navy deep-ball shooting, an 8-2 BU run brought the Terriers within 13 with 14:06 left to play in the game.
After a back-and-forth defensive battle between the two teams for the next few minutes, BU was able to pull within five after Callahan hit another 3-pointer, McKendrick hit a jumper and senior guard Melissa Gallo knocked down a three of her own with 10:28 to go.
A free-throw make from senior Jade Geif put the Midshipmen up by six, but Agboola knocked down a jump shot to pull the Terriers within four.
However, Navy took control again and was able to stretch its lead to 12 points with two minutes remaining in the half, eventually closing out the Terriers in the waning minutes.
“We played well,” McKendrick said. “We had energy, we just had a small patch that really hurt us and when you go down 14, 15 points it’s hard to come back against a really good team like that.”
Despite falling short in the end, BU shot 50 percent from both the field and the free-throw line in the second half and increased its 3-point success rate from a low 12.5 to 30.8 percent from the first half to the second half.
While the Terriers’ effort was not enough to break through the Midshipmen, Greenberg said she was pleased with the run that BU made to make things close in the second half.
“I was very happy with our — I guess you could say — our ‘comeback,’” Greenberg said. “I’m really happy with the way we responded. You can easily throw in the towel, but we did not.
“[Navy is] the best team in the league. They have been for three years, and it’s a team that I really hope we meet in the championship game down the road. We’ve gotta keep plugging away and we can get to that championship game, but we need to start winning some of these regular conference games, starting Saturday.”