Women’s basketball continues to adjust to Patriot League

Coming into the season with high hopes, the Boston University women’s basketball team has struggled to keep up with the competition in its inaugural season in the Patriot League.

The Terriers (11-19, 6-11 Patriot League) had a hard time early in the conference portion of the schedule and now sit in seventh place in the standings after being picked to finish third before the season began.

“I don’t think it’s so much adjusting to the actual Patriot League and their teams,” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg. “Playing all new teams has been an overall adjustment for us and getting to know who people are.

The season has been a transition year for the Terriers, as they lost two of the best players in the team’s history in forward Chantell Alford and guard Mo Moran.  The tandem finished their respective careers at BU in the top 10 on the all-time points list, with Alford holding the third spot and Moran at number seven. Moran also finished her time in the scarlet and white with the most minutes ever played by a BU’s women’s basketball player.

In 2011-12, BU ran through the America East Conference, compiling a 15-1 mark in the league. BU made a run in the conference playoffs, but ended up falling to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in the semifinal round.

Last season, the Terriers finished with a 13-2 record in their final year in the American East with their only losses coming against the University of Albany, who finished conference play a perfect 16-0 en route to the America East title.

In the new conference, however, BU has not had as much success as it has had in year’s past. Especially against the top-four teams in the conference, BU has struggled to get in the win column.  BU owns a combined 1-7 record against the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, American University and Bucknell University.

The one game the team was able to pull off against a top-tier team was in an 86-58 rout of Bucknell (15-11, 10-6 Patriot League) on Jan. 25.  The next time the two teams faced off, though, the Terriers’ offense did not fare as well, falling to the Bison 62-50 on Feb. 22.

This season the Terriers have relied on senior forward Rashidat Agboola and senior guard Danielle Callahan, but the team as a whole has not produced the consistency necessary to win games.

Agboola is averaging 13.4 points per game, 11th-best in the league, and Callahan averages 9.7. The numbers are strong, but are not at the level BU had with Alford and Moran.

In its latest game against Army (21-7, 13-4 PL) Wednesday night at Case Gymnasium, BU was able to stay with the Black Knights for most of the first half before the Black Knights went on a 11-3 run that put the Terriers in a 33-25 deficit at the half, a lead in which Army would not relinquish and only expand upon.

Even when Agboola touched the floor, the Terriers had trouble finding any sort of offensive rhythm.

“They doubled her every time,” Greenberg said. “Nothing good came out of it when Rashidat did catch it. They doubled her, and unfortunately I think we gave it to her too much because it put us in harms way a little bit.  I’m surprised we only turned it over eight times.”

With the loss, the Terriers only have one game left to make amends in the regular season before the playoffs start.  March 1 the Terriers conclude their Patriot League schedule against the College of the Holy Cross.

The Terriers have not seen the Crusaders (18-10, 10-7 Patriot League) since Jan. 2, when BU made its Patriot League debut in a 69-59 loss.

Even though BU has had almost a full season of conference play, it is still on a learning curve — one it has not reached the top of yet.

“There’s still a level of familiarity that we’re not at,” Greenberg said. “That doesn’t mean anything for this game though.  We still prepare for each game whether its conference or nonconference.”

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