Women’s Basketball: Terriers advance to Patriot League Finals behind 16-point overtime explosion

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

Cover Photo Credit: Eliza Nuestro

In front of a rocking Case Gymnasium crowd, Boston University Women’s Basketball shutout the Army West Point Black Knights in overtime to win 84-68, moving within one win of the NCAA Tournament.

Army’s Lauren Lithgow made all three free-throws with 0:24 left in regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Terriers (22-7, 17-1 PL) scored on all seven overtime possessions to outscore the Black Knights 16-0 in the extra period. 

“I just didn’t want them to feel deflated going into [overtime],” BU Head Coach Melissa Graves said. “So I just said, ‘We’re fine, we just got to take care of business.’”

Alex Giannaros opened the overtime scoring with a confident wing 3-pointer, and backcourt teammate Sydney Johnson iced the cake with a stepback 3-pointer of her own on the last possession of overtime. Johnson didn’t save time to watch her shot go in, waving goodbye to the Black Knights’ bench as she strutted down the floor.

The roar that followed was the loudest Case Gym has produced all season.

“[The crowd] is pretty awesome,” BU senior forward Maren Durant said. “To have this be spring break but still have kids showing up, it’s really really special and it’s obviously super helpful for tough situations like tonight.”

Durant led the overtime charge, scoring on three-straight overtime possessions to give the Terriers a nine-point lead with just over two minutes to play. After assisting two of those baskets, postmate Caitlin Weimar took the baton, scoring on the next two possessions to sink the Black Knights for good. 

The pair finished the prolonged semifinal with a combined 39 points on 17-for-27 shooting.

“I thought [Durant and Weimar] were the MVPs of the game,” Graves said “The way they shared the ball with each other was just so big.”

Durant called playing with Weimar over the last two seasons “a pleasure,” leading to an embrace between the two in the middle of their postgame press conference.

“I think our connection on the court is a testament to our chemistry off the court,” Durant said.

The Black Knights stayed competitive on the back of their 3-pointers, making seven in the second half, not including Lithgow’s game-tying free throws at the end of regulation. Freshman guard Reese Ericson made five and finished with 19 points.

“We knew Reese was a tremendous player, and we could have probably done a better job on her,” Graves said. “[Army] like to drive and kick, which is hard to guard if you can’t keep the ball in front of you.”

“We kind of fell asleep, and we let [them] cut to the other side open,” Graves said. “That was our biggest issue.”

Graves said that her team needed to contest shooters better going into Sunday’s Patriot League Championship, warning that any opponent can catch fire from three at any time.

“In this type of atmosphere, it’s March Madness, anyone can go off,” Graves said. “A kid like Hope Brown hit four threes today and she doesn’t normally hit that.”

Brown, finishing with 12 points, scuffled with Johnson from the opening minutes. After a controversial offensive foul drawn by Brown, BU’s senior guard needed a talk from Graves between the first and second quarters to keep her frustration in check.

With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Brown shoved Johnson away from her, invoking a review for a technical foul. She avoided the technical, but fouled out on the ensuing inbound with 4:13 left in regulation. 

Johnson’s wave to the Army bench after her game-closing three was the last laugh, closing out her most animated on-court performance of the season.

When asked what the hard-fought win means to her team, Durant reiterated the significance of the postseason atmosphere.

“It’s March, really anything can happen,” Durant said. “But to be in a situation like we were just in and to come out successful is exactly the next push that we need for Sunday.”

The Terriers will host the Holy Cross Crusaders (21-8, 13-5 PL) in the Patriot League Championship on Sunday at noon, the third rendition of the “Turnpike Trophy” this season. Holy Cross handed BU their first and only conference loss of the season less than two weeks ago.

The winner will earn the Patriot League’s lone ticket to the NCAA Tournament. In 49 seasons, the Terriers have qualified for March Madness once, in 2003.

“We’re super excited,” Weimar said. “We always say that this is our year.”

“Couldn’t have said it any better than that,” Durant said.