A Patriot League women’s basketball quarterfinal game will be held at Case Gym for the second year in a row after the Boston University women’s basketball team edged Lehigh University in the final seconds Wednesday, 48-47.
The Terriers (16-11, 11-5 Patriot League) eked out a last-second victory against the Mountain Hawks (16-11, 8-8 Patriot League), thanks to clutch free throw shooting from freshman forward Maren Durant in the game’s final second.
The Terriers opened the game on an 8-2 run, as the Hawks struggled to get going after committing turnovers on their first two possessions. Durant received two quick fouls, taking her out for the rest of the first quarter.
As one of just two players in the Patriot League to average more than one block per game, the Terriers lost a major defensive presence, and Lehigh managed to cut the score to 8-7 halfway through the quarter.
BU Head Coach Marisa Moseley said Durant needs to be more mindful of her play because foul trouble can derail games.
“[Durant’s] gotta pick and choose her spots, especially the first foul you get, you can’t get that second one that quickly,” Moseley said. “She really anchors our defense. Our kids are really a lot more confident when she’s out there because she takes up so much space.”
The beginning of the second quarter saw the Terriers turn the ball over twice before eventually working the score to a tied 18-18 with just under six minutes left in the half.
The score remained there for nearly three more minutes until freshman guard Liz Shean stole the ball in Lehigh’s backcourt and took it to the bucket. The two sides traded shots for the remainder of the half, but went to the locker room deadlocked at 22-22.
Entering the second half, it was Durant who set the tone. After spending most of the first half in foul trouble, Durant scored the first six points of the half for BU, and the Terriers took a 28-24 lead. However, Durant picked up her third foul and was immediately subbed out.
The score remained at 32-28 with two minutes left in the quarter until senior forward Nia Irving dished the ball to Shean, who spotted up and launched the Terriers’ ninth three-point attempt of the game. Unlike the first eight, this three swished in and the BU lead was extended to 35-28.
A steal from senior guard Hannah Hedstrom gave the Mountain Hawks a clear look at junior forward Mariah Sexe, who increased the lead to 41-36 with 8:24 remaining.
BU had trouble getting up good looks in the first five minutes of the fourth, scoring just two points on six shots. Freshman guard Maggie Pina knocked down a jumper with 3:55 remaining to cut the score to 42-40, but Lehigh junior guard Mary Clougherty responded with a corner three with 2:43 to go.
With less than one minute to play and the score at 47-44, Nelson drove down the lane to cut the Mountain Hawk lead to one.
On the ensuing possession, Durant blocked a shot and BU called a timeout with 24 seconds left. With Nelson bringing the ball up the court, the Terriers held the ball all the way down to the last shot eventually finding Durant down low, where she was fouled on the game-winning layup attempt with just 0.8 seconds left.
After sinking the first free throw to tie the game at 47, Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan called a timeout to try and ice Durant, but it was ineffective as Durant swished the second free throw to secure the 48-47 victory.
Durant said her experience from the Colgate University game earlier this season helped her at the free throw line.
“I just tried to stay as focused as I could,” Durant said. “I’ve been in this situation before at the end of the Colgate game, and I knew I’ve done it before, I can do it again. So I just really tried to lock in.”
Durant and Nelson led the Terriers with 10 points apiece, and Childs added six points to go with a team-leading 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Megan Walker led the Mountain Hawks with 16 points, and Hedstrom put up seven points, eight rebounds and three assists in the losing effort.
Nelson also earned her 300th career assist, becoming just the 11th Terrier in program history to do so.
Durant said Nelson’s calm demeanor has helped the young players on the team all season.
“[Nelson] is just such a role model for all of us,” Durant said. “Even in the most stressful situations, she is just calm throughout it all and she knows what to do. She’s our leader and so I think she has set that tone for all of us freshmen.”
The Terriers won the game despite shooting just 1-for-14 from 3-point land, and Lehigh out-rebounding them 36-28.
With the victory, the Terriers clinched home court for the Patriot League quarterfinals, and are set up to take on Patriot League regular season champion Bucknell University (21-6, 14-2 Patriot League) on Feb. 29 at 2 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion, in the penultimate game of the season.