Women’s Basketball: Unforced errors plague Terriers against Holy Cross in first Patriot League loss

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

20 turnovers, only seven fourth-quarter points and five missed free throws down the stretch undid Boston University Women’s Basketball’s undefeated conference record (22-7, 17-1 PL) as the Terriers fell to the Holy Cross Crusaders (21-8, 13-5 PL) 57-53 at Hart Center in Worcester.

Trailing by two with 11 seconds left, Sydney Johnson couldn’t clear Maren Durant’s ball screen at the top of the key, colliding with the senior forward and losing possession as she fell to the floor. It was the Terriers’ 20th turnover of the game, one too many for BU to overcome in what was their first loss since Dec. 21.

“We just didn’t execute well,” BU Head Coach Melissa Graves said. “We didn’t have the spacing we should have [on that play] and I think that was a recurring theme throughout the game.”

After jumping out to a 12-point lead early in the second quarter, the Terriers ran out of steam offensively, shooting 33% from the field in the last three quarters. In a seven-point fourth quarter performance, BU was 2-for-12 from the field and 1-for-6 from the free-throw line.

“We just tried to do too much on our own,” Graves said. “We talked about in the huddle, about making sure we create space and making sure we share the basketball.”

“Our guards looked really flustered,” Graves said.

Johnson and Caitlin Weimar, the Terriers’ two leading scorers, combined for only seven points in the second half. After a nine-point opening frame, Weimar took a hard fall and turned her ankle at the end of the first quarter. She would return to score just two points in her remaining 20 minutes on the floor.

“When she turned her ankle, that was a big turning point for her,” Graves said. “It was in her head because that’s an injury that has been recurring for her over the year.”

“She’ll be fine [for the Patriot League Quarterfinals], but in the moment it was hard for her to come back and be herself,” Graves said.

Weimar and the Terriers’ defense couldn’t contain the Crusaders’ size on the opposite end; Lindsay Berger finished with a career-high 22 points on over 60% shooting and postmate Janelle Allen finished with nine.

“[Berger] hit a lot of jumpers today,” Graves said. “She’s been hitting more [jumpers] but not in that capacity.”

“We gave up middle penetration, and that left [Berger] open for a lot of jumpers,” Graves said. “[Middle penetration] was really affecting our rotations.”

The Terriers entered the game as the third most efficient 3-point shooting team in the nation, but made just five 3s in a shooting performance that, at times, was outright ugly. Save for Johnson’s late 3 to cut the Holy Cross lead to two with 37 seconds left, the Terriers’ 3-point attempts rarely came close in the second half.

“We didn’t give our best today,” Graves said. “We probably shot one of the lowest percentages we’ve shot in a long time.”

After their first loss in 17 games over a span of more than two months, Graves finds positives in the lessons learned from a close game against a conference rival. As the Terriers now set their sights on the Patriot League Tournament, Graves said those lessons are critical.

“This is the first time we had adversity,” Graves said. “You just gotta learn from that adversity.”

The Terriers’ chance to become the first Patriot League team to win 18 conference games in a season fell heartbreakingly short, but BU still finishes the 2022-23 regular season with a program-record 17 conference wins. They’re the third Patriot League team to reach that mark since the 2013-14 season.

Graves acknowledged the pride she and her team have for their regular-season success, but emphasized that with the Patriot League Quarterfinals next on the docket, the Terriers are putting the regular season behind them.

“It’s a new season,” Graves said. “We don’t want to take away what we’ve done the rest of the year, but we have to understand it’s a new season and our record is 0-0.”

The Terriers’ new season starts on Monday at 6 p.m., when either Lafayette or Loyola-Maryland travels to Case Gym for the Patriot League Quarterfinals.