On the verge of suffering its most heartbreaking defeat of the season, the Boston University women’s basketball team stepped up when it mattered most.
Down 58-54 with 10 seconds left in regulation, the Terriers (9-13, 4-8 Patriot League) fought back with reckless abandon and recovered to down Colgate University 66-64 in overtime.
Behind 19 points from sophomore forward Nia Irving, 12 points from senior center Sophie Beaudry and 10 points from freshman guard Tenisha Pressley, BU snapped its six-game losing skid.
With 7.4 seconds remaining, a wing three-pointer by freshman guard Katie Nelson, who had nine points and six assists, kept BU alive by cutting the gap to 58-57. The Raiders (4-19, 0-12 Patriot League) then flubbed the inbound pass and the Terriers raced down the floor on a fastbreak, setting up a junior forward Naiyah Thompson free throw with three seconds left to take the game to overtime.
“We didn’t even intend to go for a three,” BU head coach Katy Steding said. “We just needed a shot. We ran it, [Nelson] got open and ‘wham!’ We have had some heartbreaks in some close games so it was nice for her to hit that.”
It was the Irving show in the extra frame, as the Fairfield, Maine native scored six of her 19 points to pace the Terriers to the narrow victory.
With 38 seconds remaining, Irving converted her biggest shot to date. Posted on the right block, Irving forced her defender on her back hip with a drop step before rising up to score the go-ahead bucket.
“[Irving] is a magician sometimes,” Steding said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, that went in.’ I don’t know how she does it sometimes. She’s just got agility. She was able to finish some good shots tonight.”
Junior forward Summer King and junior guard Chelsey Koren were the only Raiders with double figures in scoring, putting up 15 points apiece as Colgate was saddled with the familiar weight of a Patriot League loss.
The Raiders hopped out to a 9-5 lead five minutes into the contest after a layup by sophomore guard Tegan Graham, but the Terriers responded with a 5-0 run.
Nelson canned a three-pointer before Pressley went coast to coast on a layup to give BU a slim lead going into the second quarter.
The Terriers entered the second frame firing on all cylinders.
A Pressley layup broke a 12-12 tie before a spinning finish by Irving bumped the lead to 16-12. With five minutes to go, BU held a five-point advantage after a corner three-pointer by sophomore guard Vanessa Edgehill.
The Raiders were able to close the gap to 26-22 near the end of the half, following senior guard Kateri Stone’s three pointer. However, it was the Terriers who entered the break with momentum.
Colgate shot below 30 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes while making less than 15 percent of its three-pointers.
But the Raiders flipped the script at the onset of the second half.
After an Irving bucket on the first possession, Colgate responded with a layup from forward Mylah Chandler and a King and-one finish to tie the game at 28 apiece.
Beaudry responded with critical senior leadership.
After regrouping the team in a huddle following the King bucket, she bailed her teammates out with a bank shot in the lane as the shot clock expired on the very next possession.
A few series later, she drop-stepped her way to a left-handed finish to bump BU’s lead back up to 34-30.
On the subsequent possession, Beaudry found a cutting Pressley on the baseline for an open layup, and Pressley surged with her second steal-and-score of the game to up the gap to 38-32.
Irving propelled the lead to seven with a picturesque and-one finish to begin the fourth quarter, using a pump fake to create space before absorbing contact as she converted a left-handed layup.
Beaudry made a layup to give BU their biggest lead of the night at 45-36, but the Raiders were determined not to let the night end there.
Koren made a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer on the ensuing trip before freshman guard Nia Ahart made a fall away baseline floater to cut the deficit to 45-41.
Another Koren three from the right corner made it 47-44 with under six minutes remaining and senior forward Tori Pozsonyi tied the game with a crucial and-one finish on the right block on the subsequent possession off an entry feed from Chandler.
One Graham free throw later and the Raiders had completed a 12-2 run to seize the lead.
With 1:16 left, Chandler drove baseline and finished with a layup to put the Raiders up 54-52.
BU turned over the rock on the following possession, and Koren poured in a dribble-drive finish with 28 seconds remaining to double the gap.
But BU was not deterred, as Irving’s overtime barrage sealed the home victory.
“[Irving] is a tough kid,” Steding said. “She’s got a lot of room to grow, but you know she wants the ball in crunch time. You got to appreciate a kid that loves to score. She’s special.”