The Boston University women’s basketball team played their best game of the season Wednesday night in Smithfield, Rhode Island, beating Bryant University 78-61. After alternating wins and losses to begin the season, the Terriers (4-2) have now won back-to-back games for the first time.
BU got off to a bit of a sluggish start, failing to connect on any of their first six field goal attempts.
Sophomore guard and forward Stephanie Lesko connected on an early three-pointer, and four quick points from freshman forward Hannah Scanlan gave the Bulldogs (0-6) an early 7-3 lead. The slow start led the Terriers’ head coach Katy Steding to call a timeout.
Steding said she was not concerned about the slow start offensively, but did continue to stress defense during that early timeout.
“The shots will drop,” Steding said. “We just needed to pick up our effort defensively. The main focus for us defense tonight.”
BU responded after the timeout, outscoring Bryant 13-8 in the remainder of the first quarter, giving the Terriers a slim 16-15 after one quarter. It was a sloppy first 10 minutes for BU though, as they turned the ball over six times.
Sophomore forward Nia Irving came off the bench late in the first quarter and provided the Terriers the spark they were looking for. She scored eight points in the last five minutes of the quarter.
Steding said she was impressed with Irving’s play, especially down low.
“She got herself right by the rim a few times, [Irving] is so agile in there,” Steding said. “She makes a difficult shot look easy, and she has such a nice soft touch.”
Steding credits Irving for leading the Terriers’ turnaround after a bit of a slow start.
“She got us going right away when we needed a little spark and that really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Steding said.
BU used the spark from Irving to continue their hot shooting into the second quarter.
After Bryant took an 18-16 lead early in the quarter, the Terriers responded with a 9-0 run. Irving had four of the nine points to give BU a 25-18 lead midway through the quarter.
The Terriers led by as many as nine in the quarter before the Bulldogs cut it to five late in the second.
Irving connected on a jump shot to beat the buzzer, restoring the Terriers lead to seven at 33-26. Although the shot was reviewed by the officials, the ball was released before the clock expired, bringing Irving’s first-half output to 16.
The Terriers had a very strong first half shooting the ball, converting on 14 of 27 first half attempts.
The 16 first half points from Irving topped her season high of 14, coming against the University of New Hampshire. Irving was stellar in the first half, shooting a perfect 8-8 from the field and chipping in with five rebounds.
After a scoreless first half for freshman guard Katie Nelson, she opened the third quarter with four points and an assist to give the Terriers a 41-29 lead. Nelson also contributed with six assists overall, proving how versatile of an asset she can be for the Terriers.
Even though Nelson is a freshman, Steding notes her on-court presence is far beyond her years.
“[Nelson] is pretty wise on the basketball court,” Steding said. “She doesn’t get rattled; she has an incredible ability to focus with a lot of distractions coming at her.”
BU extended their lead to 17 by the end of the third quarter, taking a 60-43 lead.
Freshman guard Tenisha Pressley contributed with two threes over the third quarter, adding to her season high total of 15 points.
The Terriers were able to hold onto their large lead in the fourth quarter toppling Bryant by a final score of 78-61.
The BU bench had a solid night, accounting for 56 of the Terriers 78 points. Along with Irving and Pressley, junior forward Naiyah Thompson and sophomore guard Vanessa Edgehill had 12 and 11 points respectively, giving BU four scorers in double figures, all of them coming off the bench.
Steding preaches to all her players to be ready when their number is called, and that was the certainly the case tonight.
“Everybody tonight was ready when their number was called,” Steding said. “That’s the real beauty of team basketball.”