Basketball, Sports

Second-half defense keys Terrier victory

On the season, America East opponents of the Boston University women’s basketball team had been shooting a meager .376 from the field and turning the ball over 10.0 times per game, second and third best in the conference, respectively.

Through the first 20 minutes of Wednesday night’s 89-71 win over Stony Brook University, BU’s notoriously stingy defense not only looked mortal ‘-‘- it had more holes than the plot of a classic Halloween slasher film.

For the opening seven minutes, the game was business as usual for the first-place Terriers. With 13:53 left in the first, BU held a 17-5 lead built mostly on the strength of eight SBU turnovers and four steals by senior Amarachi Umez-Eronini.

The Seawolves, led by sophomores Misha Horsey and Kirsten Jeter, charged back with a 10-0 run of their own, and for the rest of the first half, there was seemingly nothing that BU could do right on the defensive end.

The ‘Wolves found open space from which to shoot on seemingly every possession until the halftime buzzer. On one such occasion, Jeter pulled in a pass on the right side of the offensive zone, and all five Terriers flocked in her direction. Horsey, realizing that the entire backside of the court was open, drove towards the basket from the left point, reeled in a pass from Jeter and laid the rock in for two, drawing a foul on freshman Caroline Stewart in the process.

‘I think that [during SBU’s run], personnel-wise, we weren’t really playing them to their weaknesses enough,’ BU coach Kelly Greenberg said. ‘I felt like a few times, we ran at people and they went by us on the dribble and hit a layup. And then on the flip side, we didn’t get down on shooters, and they hit open shots.

‘I give [Stony Brook] a lot of credit. They play very hard, and I think for a young team, they do a lot of good things’

However, if the first half told a tale of everything the Terrier defense could potentially be lacking, the second resounded with the echoes of everything BU’s defensive corps was capable of achieving.

When SBU junior Crystal Rushin dropped in a layup with 10:46 remaining, the Terriers held a 68-56 advantage, and were on the cusp of closing out their 11th straight win.

Any comeback thoughts the ‘Wolves might have been conjuring up at the time were haulted by BU’s stunningly tight defense ‘-‘- it would take more than six minutes for the Seawolves to make their next field goal.

‘I think we recognized going into the half that they seemed tired,’ Greenberg said. ‘They had girls asking to come out of the game because they were tired. With [senior Christine Kinneary and Umez-Eronini], we just wanted to keep running. It didn’t mean we had to get fastbreak points, but just keep pushing the ball so [the Seawolves] keep getting more and more tired.

‘In the long run, I think [Stony Brook] just had no legs under them.’

The Terriers ended the game with 14 fastbreak points to SBU’s none, and outscored the ‘Wolves, 30-5, in points off turnovers. BU picked up 18 steals, including a career high seven for Umez-Eronini, previously touted by Kinneary as ‘the best defensive guard in the conference, by far.’

‘Our main focus from practice was being aggressive and getting in passing lanes,’ Umez-Eronini said about the team’s defensive philosophy. ‘Just being aggressive and talking ‘-‘- that’s what got us our steals and the deflections. We got a lot of deflections today. Mainly, it was just hawking the forwards, calling out the screens, and the guards just being aggressive.’

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