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Terriers looking for big wins at SMU Classic tourney

Yee-haw.

That may not exactly be the sentiments of the Boston University women’s basketball team, but it’s close enough, as it will spend the weekend competing at the Hoops for the Cure Women’s Basketball Classic at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

It will be the third straight tournament for the Terriers, who have garnered only one win after four games in the Vanderbilt Tournament and their own Boston University Invitational to start the season.

BU will face the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff tonight while the host Mustangs will tip off in the second game against Southern Illinois University. Depending on its performance tonight, BU will then play in either the championship or consolation game Saturday.

The Terriers are continuing their streak of difficult early-season games in their trip to the Lone Star State in hopes of being well-prepared for the opening of their America East schedule, which gets underway almost immediately upon their return with a game Dec. 5 against the University of Maine.

BU’s first opponent, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, is most likely the weakest team in the SMU Classic and should usher the Terriers into Saturday’s title game. The Golden Lionettes have gotten reamed in their first three games of the season, most recently a 77-47 drubbing at the hands of Texas A’M University Tuesday, and have lost by an average of over 22 points per game.

It’s 0-3 start has landed Arkansas-Pine Bluff in next-to-last place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference just ahead of — you guessed it — Alcorn State University.

BU, meanwhile, is struggling to adjust to a new, fast-paced style of play as well as gelling with its five freshmen, four of whom have seen considerable playing time early on including two who may be starting tonight: freshman guard Katie Terhune and freshman guard Lashaunda Mitchell.

A preseason ankle injury to junior guard Pilar Verde, who normally directs the offense, has hampered the consistency of BU’s offense as well. Verde is questionable for tonight, and may not be back in action until the Terriers return to face Maine.

To their credit, however, the Terriers have not been want for points, as they have turned in two performances in which they have knocked down 90-plus points and are averaging over 77 points per game this season.

And if BU makes it to Saturday’s championship game, it will undoubtedly need another high-scoring effort.

Southern Methodist enters as the frontrunner in its own tournament, despite posting just a 2-2 record. The Mustangs are coming off a disappointing 83-62 showing Tuesday against No. 14 Louisiana State University, during which they saw three Tigers score in double-figures, including a 34-point clinic given by Marie Ferdinand. The Tigers shot 62.1 percent from the floor overall.

Southern Methodist connected on just three of its 19 attempts from three-point range in that game, and coughed up the ball 17 times. Still, the loss came to a top 20 team, and a week’s practice could make quite a difference. The Mustangs, who made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season and finished with a 22-9 record, currently sit at fourth in the Western Athletic Conference. If both BU and Southern Methodist advance to the championship, it will be the first meeting between the two.

The Mustangs opponent tonight, Southern Illinois, will be almost as difficult a challenge for BU if the Terriers should face the Salukis Saturday.

The Salukis enter the weekend with a 1-2 clip under first year head coach Lori Opp, but could be as formidable an opponent as BU has faced so far this year. Southern Illinois guard Terica Hathaway enters the weekend averaging 16.7 points per game, while sophomore guard Molly McDowell is contributing 11.3 points per game.

The Salukis biggest strength may be its presence off the glass, however — Southern Illinois is averaging over 42 rebounds per game.

The Southern Methodist Classic is BU’s last chance to face top-notch, out-of-region teams before the onset of the conference schedule, and the Terriers are hoping to bring home a little bit of Texas in the form of a tournament trophy.

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