Many factors led to the Boston University women’s basketball team pulling off a stunning 66–49 victory over 15/17 St. John’s University at Case Gymnasium on Saturday.
Many would point to the Terriers’ (5–3) superb 3-point shooting in the first half as the main catalyst to the team’s victory.
However, BU coach Kelly Greenberg said the team’s tenacious defense and rebounding were the main components to arguably the biggest upset victory in the program’s history.
“Our team defense was just fantastic,” Greenberg said. “Everyone was just in the paint and really alert at all times and really rebounded the heck out of the basketball. … I think the game really came down to that.”
Entering the game on Saturday, the St. John’s Red Storm (4–2) boasted an impressive offense that averaged 68.4 points per game and outscored their opponents by a total margin of 62 points.
Despite their impressive offensive numbers, the Red Storm were unable to get much going against the Terriers’ defense, as they only managed 44 points on 30.6 percent shooting. St. John’s especially struggled with shooting beyond the arc, as it only hit 1-of-10 3-point attempts.
“We were ready, we were moving and we weren’t right up on them because we had to respect their quickness knowing that they could also shoot,” Greenberg said. “We just kept a really good balance with our one-on-one defense on the ball and things went our way.
The Terriers, in particular, did an excellent job shutting down the reigning Big East Player of the Week, St. John’s senior guard Shenneika Smith.
Smith, who averaged 20.8 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game before Saturday’s game, only managed nine points on four-of-12 shooting from the field.
“[Smith] is a real legitimate scorer. I just think whoever was matched up with her just shut her down,” Greenberg said. “For someone who was averaging what she was … we just did a terrific job going one-on-one with her.”
Both the Terriers and Red Storm finished the game with 43 rebounds. For the Terriers, who lost the battle on the boards in three out of their last four games, 43 rebounds against a tough opponent in St. John’s was an integral part of the team’s victory.
“I just can’t say enough about rebounding,” Greenberg said. “That was the game for us, not giving [St. John’s] any second-chance opportunities.”
This is the second straight impressive showing from the Terriers’ defense, as they held the University of Rhode Island Rams to just 29 points on 18.9 percent shooting last Tuesday.
For Greenberg, the Terriers’ success on the defensive side of the ball can all be traced back to simple preparation.
“We talk a lot about our team defense and we do some silly little drills quite often just to remind us of the little things and just that … we constantly have to have each other’s back and no one can be left in a one-on-one situation,” Greenberg said.
“We’re pretty scout-specific, so in today’s game … we were not gonna double their post players, which really played to our advantage big time,” Greenberg added.
Greenberg said that no amount of preparation and coaching can have the same impact as toughness and performing in the moment.
“Our players are tough. There are situations that are happening out there that none of us can prepare our players for, and they really just play in the moment with each other and that really went a long way as well,” Greenberg said.
The Terriers look to continue to shut down opposing defenses when they host the University of Massachusetts on Wednesday at Case Gym.