Basketball, Sports

Women’s basketball sets sights on 2nd straight Patriot League victory

The Boston University women’s basketball team will look to win its second straight Patriot League game Wednesday night when it takes on the U.S. Military Academy.

The Terriers (8-13, 3-5 Patriot League) will be traveling to West Point, N.Y., where the Black Knights (14-5, 6-2 Patriot League) are a perfect 9-0 at home.

“We can’t be happy that we got a big win over Bucknell [University],” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg on moving on to the next game.  “We have to figure out what we did well in that game, improve on it and then figure out what Army brings.  Then if we can combine what we’re doing well and limit Army’s strengths then we’ll be fine.”

BU is coming off of an 86-58 win against the Bison (10-8, 5-3 Patriot League) where senior forward Rashidat Agboola had 25 points, pushing her into the 1,000-point club for her Terrier career.

The Terriers are led by Agboola and senior guard Danielle Callahan, who are both averaging double-digit points per game. Callahan is second in the league in assists, while Agboola is fifth in rebounding and blocked shots.

To counter the BU attack, in Army’s main weapon in its arsenal is sophomore Kelly Minato. She is averaging 20.2 points per game, good for first in the Patriot League.  Greenberg said she is aware of the kind of scoring threat that Minato poses.

“They have a really good point guard,” Greenberg said about Minato. “She’s a big time scorer and 20 points a game is a lot.  We’re certainly going to be aware of where she is on the court.”

Army also leads the league in defensive rebounds and rebounding margin with two players within the top 10 in the league in the rebound category.

With BU towards the bottom in the rebounding department in the Patriot League, a full team effort will be needed to stop the Black Knight inside game.

“We talk about rebounding every game because it’s just so important,” Greenberg said.  “The last several games we feel like our guards, especially [sophomore guard] Clodagh [Scannell], have stepped up and helped with rebounding so we’re going to focus on that.”

Scannell has been strong on the boards lately, grabbing 12 and seven rebounds in her last two games, respectively, after grabbing just 45 in the previous 17 matchups of the season.

Not only has Scannell improved on the boards, but she has also been a potent offensive weapon for the Terriers. She had 15 points in a win over Colgate University Jan. 15 and scored a career-high 17 points against Loyola University-Maryland Jan. 19.

Coupled with Scannell’s resurgence, junior forward Mollie McKendrick has inserted some much-needed stability in the Terriers’ starting lineup, as she has been a vital part in the last three games. During the stretch, the junior has averaged 13.3 points per game and 7.6 rebounds a contest.

McKendrick has been part of a BU lineup including Agboola, Scannell, Callahan and freshman guard Sarah Hope that has gone 2-1 as unit on the floor. Greenberg said the Terriers will likely stick with the lineup throughout the rest of the season, barring major injury.

“I think we’ve got our starting five with Mollie and Clodagh starting and [senior forward Whitney Turner] coming off the bench,” Greenberg said. “Which is great because Whitney’s our big presence and we’ll stick with the rotations we’ve been doing and just play possession basketball.”

Not only will the starting lineup have to continue to work well together, but getting good opportunities will be essential for the Terriers as well. The Black Knights have held opponents to a 36.7 shooting percentage from the field, posing a problem for BU, which is shooting just 37.2 percent on the season.

“We just have to move the ball and get our open shots and hopefully knock them down,” Greenberg said.

With inconsistencies this season, the Terriers have not often had much success stringing together victories, winning two straight games just once,  with consecutive wins coming against the University of New Hampshire and the University of Vermont. However, for Greenberg, the focus is not on the wins, but on what the team can do to improve.

“From day one, from the Northeastern [University]  game we’ve said, ‘lets just learn from the game and learn from the experience and clean up whatever we didn’t do so hot in,’” Greenberg said. “That’s the key.”

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