BU mauls Maine in opener

There was something different about the Boston University women’s basketball team last night at The Roof.

Was it their haircuts? Their uniforms? No, those were the same as before.

More likely it was their stifling defense and an 86-64 blowout win against the University of Maine.

Freshman forward Katie Terhune continued her early season brilliance, scoring 22 points. Senior center Alison Dixon added 16 and junior guard Pilar Verde, in her first true test after an early season injury, scored 14 points, hitting 4-of-6 shots from three-point territory.

The Terriers held the Black Bears to 37.3 percent shooting, blocked nine shots and forced 27 turnovers in what was their finest defensive performance of the season.

“We want to beat Maine all the time,” Verde said. “But last year, we couldn’t.”

This year was a much different story. Dixon knocked down a jumper a minute into the game and BU never looked back, building a 12-point lead in the first five minutes. The Terriers never trailed in the game, and the closest Maine would get was seven points.

The BU press was too much for Maine. Eleven of the 27 Black Bear turnovers came from Terrier steals. Junior forward Dia Dufault, who struggled offensively for BU, was one of the defensive lynchpins with three thefts. Maine guard Ellen Geraghty wilted under the hot lights of The Roof and the inspired effort of BU, turning the ball over nine times, including six in the first half.

“As a player and as a coach I’m sure it’s a lot more fun if you can run,” said BU head coach Margaret McKeon.

BU looked like it had fun, as the turnovers led to fast break opportunities and limited the damage that the big Maine frontcourt could do.

“I think when you have a lot of pressure on the perimeter, they have trouble getting the ball inside,” McKeon said.

Indeed, the starting Black Bears’ frontcourt was limited to only 15 points.

As much as the defense was the reason the Terriers won so comfortably, Verde’s return sparked the offense during her 21 minutes on the court. Verde had only made brief appearances in three of the team’s first six games while recovering from a preseason injury. Her return helps the team’s composure on the floor — she only turned the ball over once and gave the bench more depth.

Jitters were there at the beginning for Verde, until she launched a shot from downtown.

“When I made the first three-point shot, my ankle felt fine,” Verde said.

The game marked a huge step in America East for the Terriers. The Black Bears had won 14 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams dating back to 1993, including the last five in a row. Intimidation could seemingly have been a factor going into last night’s game, but it was evidently not a problem with the team BU featured.

“They have no clue [about the history],” McKeon said. “Freshmen are just out here playing basketball.”

Terhune showed no intimidation, and neither did freshman forward Marisa Mosely, who scored eight points and blocked four shots, and freshman guard Courtney Jones, who added six points and three assists.

“I just wanted them to have an opportunity to blow out a team that has a name like Maine,” McKeon said.

The final ingredient to a Terrier victory was the return to form of Alison Dixon, whose 16 points were more than her previous two game totals against University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Southern Methodist University.

A new-look team presented itself last night at The Roof, far removed from the team that struggled in the BU Tournament and the team that went 8-21 last year.

And just think, at this point, they’re atop America East (1-0).

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