Basketball, Basketball, NCAA, Sports

Women’s basketball reflects on adversity, insights gained from past season

While the team fell short of its ultimate goal of a conference championship, the Boston University women’s basketball team overcame adversity and saw success with the cards they were dealt. 

Freshman guard Aina Grane Torres (8) celebrates with her teammates in a game against Lehigh in February. Despite a loss in the Patriot League Finals to Holy Cross, the 20-12 Terriers finished tied for second in the regular season. ZACH SCHWARTZ/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

“Key players went down with injuries,” head coach Melissa Graves said. “Had they been healthy, maybe there would have been a different result, but I thought to get to this point amongst all that… I was very proud of the season we had.”

The Terriers, who finished 20-12 overall and 10-8 in the Patriot League, fell short in the PL  championship game, but they finished the regular season tied for second. Goals are set even higher for next season. 

“It’s very important, from freshman year to the time you graduate, that you’re growing your game and putting in work to be better,” junior guard Alex Giannaros said. “If everybody buys into that, we’ll get to where we were this year and hopefully put ourselves in an even better position to win.”

A few of the team’s top dogs went down with injuries, but that encouraged younger players to step up and take the reins.

It started with sophomore forward Anete Adler, who suffered an injury in December. 

“[Adler] was a huge key for us in the nonconference,” Graves said

Graves explained that Adler had stepped up her game, as she didn’t play a lot at her former school. The team lifted her confidence, and as Adler weaved her way into the starting lineup, finding a rhythm with senior forward Caitlin Weimar.

“[Her injury] affected us in such a way that other people really had to figure out how to step up rebounding-wise,” Graves said. “We didn’t have another big post presence in there to help with Cait … [who] is getting all the attention back to the basket.”

Then, senior guard Kelsi Mingo started five games before getting hurt in early March. As BU’s fourth-best scorer, Mingo was also a solid defender and understood the system and expectations of the team. 

Despite being down a senior, Graves applauded sophomore forward Anastasiia Semenova’s initiative and growth. A year ago, she tallied 36 points, played 22 games, and did not start a single game. This season, she appeared on the court 28 times with 18 starts, totaling 224 points. 

Graves praised the team’s freshmen like guard Audrey Ericksen, who averaged almost 30 minutes per game this season. She appeared in and started 32 games.

“I love talking about our freshmen, especially Audrey, Aoibhe and Inéz, who really had to step up and play a lot of minutes … It’s a lot of pressure,” Graves said. “But I’m happy for the experience because it’s going to help pay off in the future.”

Even with all the injuries, the Terriers scrapped their way into a conference championship game.

“They lost a lot of pieces from the team last year, so we were young,” freshman guard Aoibhe Gormley added. “But, hopefully we can build on that next year in the winter.”

Giannaros agreed. Throughout the season, the team had to figure out who they were, she said. But people stepped up when it mattered.

“You can’t be anything but proud of what these girls did,” she said.

Giannaros, a captain alongside Weimar, was the team’s 1-2 punch.

The duo was recognized in the All-Patriot League postseason awards, with both being named on the First Team All-Patriot League. Weimar was selected as the Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and she earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team.

“It’s cool to finally see that what we’re doing is positive for our group of girls and that we can be good leaders for them,” Giannaros said. “So it’s really not even about us. It’s a reflection of our entire team and how well we pushed through adversity this whole season.”

By the end of the regular season, Weimar played 28 games and led the League with 18.7 points per game, 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

As Weimar graduates from BU and heads into the transfer pool, she also passes the ball to Giannaros. As a captain and leader, the junior will take on an even bigger role without Weimar by her side.

“Something I’ve had to really work on this season… [is] being a leader,” Giannaros said. “I have a different way of leading and sometimes it can come across as intense, so [it’s] just making sure I can support all my teammates in ways that work for them and help them produce.”

Giannaros wrapped up her regular season with 14.2 points per game, which ranks her fifth in the PL. She started 31 of 32 games, averaging around 36 minutes per game this season.

BU will welcome at least six more newcomers next winter, according to Graves. For now, this year’s freshmen are dribbling in rhythm with upperclassmen.

“Having a year under your belt is really big … I think it’s going to be really key to keep working and making those jumps,” Gormley said. “Because next year, the mindset is already there. You have more confidence. You’re not a freshman anymore.”

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