The Boston University women’s basketball team will play Lafayette College for the third time this season in the first round of the Patriot League tournament.
The first two matchups of the season between the teams were tight, as the Leopards (10-18, 6-12 Patriot League) won both contests by a combined margin of just five points.
The Terriers (10-18, 5-13 Patriot League) are coming into the tournament having lost five straight matchups, while Lafayette’s only win over its past five has come against BU on Feb. 21.
BU head coach Katy Steding said she would have liked to see a stronger finish last time against the Leopards, but sees the upcoming playoff game as a second chance.
“We had our destiny in our hands, but we kind of let it slip through,” Steding said. “Now we have to battle uphill.”
As will be the case on Saturday, the Terriers’ last game against the Leopards was in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Despite her team having a 6-9 record on the road, Steding said she is not phased by having to play away from Case Gym.
“We play pretty well on the road,” Steding said. “We play well at home too, but I like us on the road. I’m not worried and I don’t think the girls are worried about being on the road.”
The last time out, offense was hard to come by for both sides, but BU sophomore forward Nia Irving was the most effective player on the floor for both teams.
Irving had 23 points and 12 rebounds. The 23 points were a game high and the 12 rebounds were a team high.
The Leopards ended the game on a 6-0 run and the Terriers were held scoreless over the final 3:39. BU only scored 16 points in the second half and shot just 14.8 percent from the field in the second half.
Steding said she is trying to focus her team on taking better shots.
“We have to keep attacking the rim,” Steding said. “We have to stop taking rushed shots and start taking smart shots.”
Lafayette was led by a pair of freshmen, guard Drew Freeland and forward Natalie Kucowski. Freeland had 15 points while Kucowski had 13 rebounds.
Kucowski leads the entire league in rebounds per game, averaging 10.4. She is also one of two players to average a double-double and is tied for second in the league with 1.5 blocks per game.
In the teams’ first meeting of the season, the Leopards edged the Terriers 47-45 at Case Gym.
BU led 40-36 entering the fourth quarter, but like in the other contest, the Terriers struggled offensively down the stretch, being shutout for the last 4:40.
Senior guard Anna Ptasinski, who missed the most recent contest against the Terriers, led all scorers with 17 points in the Jan. 24 victory.
Freshman guard Katie Nelson had 12 to lead BU.
Steding said she thinks her team can win playing the low-scoring slow game that the Leopards like to play, but she is hoping to open the game up to better suit her offense.
“I’d like to open it up,” Steding said. “They do a good job of transitioning back into their zone so I think one the objectives for us is to and beat the zone down the floor.”
Lafayette is coming off a disappointing 60-55 loss on the road against Colgate University and was only the Raiders’ (7-22, 3-15 Patriot League) third league win of the season.
BU is coming of a tough loss as well, as the team fell 65-52 to Loyola University Maryland Wednesday night.
The Terriers were just down by three going into the fourth, despite only scoring three points in the second quarter.
The Greyhounds (9-20, 7-11 Patriot League) pulled away late, with 24 points in the final quarter.
Although BU has limped toward the finish line, Steding said the post-season tournament is a chance for everyone to start with a clean slate.
“Everybody is winless and everybody is undefeated,” Steding said. “There’s no time like the present.”