The crowd erupted with the final buzzer at Case Gym as the Boston University women’s basketball team took a narrow 46-44 Patriot League quarterfinal victory over American University.
The team had just clinched a semifinal berth in the Patriot League Tournament, the furthest the team had made in its seven seasons of Patriot League play. The No. 2 seed, BU was slated to play the No. 6 Lehigh University at home on March 12. And then, COVID-19 hit.
The team is preparing for what it hopes will be another successful season, despite the pandemic shortening its 18-12 campaign in 2019-20 and creating a new normal for the 2020-21 season.
Head coach Marisa Moseley and her team have had to adapt to many adjustments at practices for this semester.
The squad is training in smaller sub-teams of six to seven players on Case Gym’s three basketball courts. This adds challenges to Moseley’s practice routine.
“Case Court A is one, I stand in the middle on Court B and then Court C is the third court where the other group is,” Moseley said. “Sometimes we can go two-on-two or three-on-three, but it’s challenging once you get above three-on-three to really do anything.”
Even with this new practice procedure, all BU Athletics’ in-person activities were temporarily suspended in mid-October due to heightened coronavirus cases.
Moseley said the team adapted quickly to the stoppage of practice and that it has made them more grateful for each day they are allowed to practice.
“They all handled it in stride and I think the other thing that we’ve kind of learned from this time is no day is guaranteed,” Moseley said. “So we take each of those [practices] as an opportunity. We’re all living on borrowed time, so it’s a win when we get to be out there and be together and work on our craft.”
An adjustment the team will have to make in the future is playing without spectators, because Boston University Athletics announced Thursday fans will not be allowed to attend basketball or ice hockey games this season.
“Obviously, we have a really great environment with our band and parents and family and friends,” Moseley said. “That’s disappointing, no doubt, but I think, as we all know, this is not a normal time, and so we had to mentally prepare ourselves that we were going to have potentially not normal experiences either.”
Moseley said she believes that though fans can help her team, their absence will not throw everything off balance.
“I assume my players are like me: once you tip, and you’re in it, you don’t hear the rest of the stuff,” Moseley said. “It’s just the game. You’re focusing on what you’re trying to accomplish.”
The Terriers are trying to finish another winning season that enables them to compete for a league championship. Their 18-12 season last year placed them at second place in the PL, behind Bucknell University, and they were gearing up for a deep playoff run.
Moseley said the abrupt end to last season has especially motivated her team to seize the opportunity of winning a title that was taken from them by the pandemic.
“We didn’t even get the opportunity to play,” Moseley said. “I think that’s created fire in all their bellies.”
The major core of the team is returning for this season, including senior guard Katie Nelson, who led the Terriers in points, assists and minutes in the 2019-20 campaign. The Terriers also return sophomore guard Maggie Pina who finished second on the team in total points and fourth in assists.
After a winning campaign and the graduation of only one major piece — team captain Nia Irving — Moseley said she feels the team is in a good place. She has praised all members of her squad both on and off the court.
“I’m just extremely proud of my players and my staff for their resiliency, for their willingness to continue to be flexible and at the same time motivated for what we’re trying to do,” Moseley said. “It is not an easy feat. None of us have ever been through a pandemic.”
BU has no official schedule as of now, but the Terriers will play a conference-only season starting after New Year’s Day, according to recent reports from ESPN.