In the semifinal round of the Patriot League tournament Thursday night, the second-seeded American University Eagles (22-8, 13-5 Patriot League) defeated the third-seeded Boston University women’s basketball team 70-48 in a loss that ended the Terriers’ (17-14, 12-6 PL) hopes of a Patriot League title.
In her first season coaching the Terriers, head coach Melissa Graves wasn’t satisfied with the team’s semifinal exit, but was proud of the team’s performance throughout the season.
“We accomplished a lot of great things this year,” Graves said. “Obviously, not the way we wanted to go out, so really just heartbroken for our kids.”
The Eagles were led by senior guard Emily Fisher, who scored a game-high 25 points in addition to her five rebounds and four assists.
Almost half of Fisher’s points came from the free-throw line, where she shot 11-for-14.
Fouls became a big problem throughout the game for both teams, but the referee’s willingness to blow the whistle had some devastating effects on the Terriers late in the game — three BU players fouled out in the fourth quarter with a considerable amount of time left on the game clock.
“When you’re in foul trouble, you’re afraid of getting charges and things like that,” Graves said. “I thought we battled in the end, but it just made it really difficult.”
One player who fouled out, junior guard Sydney Johnson, took home first-team all-Patriot League honors for the Terriers this season. At the time she fouled out, Johnson led the Terriers in scoring with 13 points.
Johnson was visibly frustrated with the foul calls by the referees. The frustration led to a technical foul with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, which put her over the limit and ended her season a few minutes early.
“It’s unfortunate that she was given that technical [foul], but we talked all year about how we need to handle adversity,” Graves said. “We are working on that and it’s something we definitely need to grow in.”
Aside from turnovers, the Terriers were even more limited when it came to their perimeter shooting.
In BU’s prior matchup against the United States Military Academy, the Terriers knocked down 11 three-point field goals. Yet, in Thursday’s loss against the Eagles, BU only hit three shots from beyond the arc, all of which came in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of our threes last game came in transition and we just didn’t get those opportunities tonight,” Graves said.
Despite the disappointing semifinal loss against the Eagles, Graves is looking forward to the next season and has high hopes for the Terriers.
“We’re having almost all of our pieces back next year,” Graves said. “To potentially have all four of our all-conference players return is huge.”
Graves emphasized the importance of the team showing the ability to consistently perform at a high level going forward, noting that, if the team can accomplish that consistency, they will be a tough team to beat in the Patriot League next season.
“If we were this close now, next year I think we’ll be in an even better position,” Graves said.