Patriot League roundup: BU rookies rising, Colgate home court edge and more news and notes

NCAA women's basketball between Boston University and Marist at Case Gym, The Roof, on November 8, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon)
NCAA women's basketball between Boston University and Marist at Case Gym, The Roof, on November 8, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon) /

Boston University rookies step up to the challenge

If there’s a freshman wall, Maggie Pina just knocked it down. The first-year shooting guard from West Chester, Pennsylvania, just collected her fifth Rookie-of-the-Week honor and has helped Boston University to a four-game winning streak and a third-place tie in the league standings.

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The adjustment to the college game for the Terrier freshman had to come quickly. Earlier this season, in just her fifth career game, she logged 28 minutes off the bench for a 13-point effort in a blow-out loss to Harvard and has been a regular in the rotation ever since. She’s started 15 games and played 29.6 mpg. Pina leads the team with 49 made threes (49-for-135) and is averaging 11.3 ppg.

Boston University’s win streak includes wins over league-leading Bucknell, Loyola (MD), and a sweep of Holy Cross—one of the pre-season favorites for the title. Pina has scored 16.7 ppg over the four-game streak, playing 38.5 mpg over that span. She led all scorers with 19 points in last week’s 62-51 win over Holy Cross, including 5-for-9 from three-point range. Pina has hit at least five three-pointers in a game six times this season.

While Pina’s standout season has been a spark for her squad, her classmates are meeting the challenge, too. Second-year Head Coach Marisa Moseley has guided the Terriers’ (12-10, 7-4) climb in the standings with three freshmen starters. Pina is joined in the line-up by fellow rookies Sydney Johnson and Maren Durant.

Johnson, a 5’9” guard from Powder Springs, Georgia, has made 18 starts and logs 30 minutes per game. In the season opener against Marist. Johnson scored a team-high 21 points and dished out four assists. She was named Patriot League Rookie-of-the-Week for her efforts.

Johnson has played in all 22 games this season and is scoring 8.1 ppg. She leads the team in steals with 32 and is second in assists with 46. Johnson posted 13 points and 8 rebounds in the Terriers’ first win over the Crusaders. She logged 43 minutes in the overtime contest and displayed a mental toughness that is fast becoming a hallmark of Moseley’s program.

Durant demonstrates that resiliency on the interior of BU’s defense. The 6’3” forward is making the most of her opportunity in the starting line-up and leads the team with 29 blocks. The Winchester, Massachusetts, native has started six straight games and seven overall. During the Terriers’ four-game win streak, she’s logged 31.2 mpg, scored 8.5 ppg and hauled in 8.5 rpg.

She’s been a defensive stopper in the post, recording 10 blocks during the streak. Although Durant didn’t hit the 20-minute mark with playing time until her 13th game, she’s now a fixture in the line-up. She’s also the most efficient shooter on the team, converting 34-for-61 from the field for 55.7% while playing to her strengths around the rim. She’s also collected some of that rookie hardware for the Terriers, recognized by the league in consecutive weeks at the end of January.

The Terrier rotation could be even younger if not for injury. Freshman guard Annabelle Larnard—an opening day starter—is out with a leg injury and has missed the team’s last seven games. The 6’0” shooter has averaged 20.7 mpg and is the squad’s most accurate shooter from long distance, hitting 16-for-31 for 51.6%.

Boston University has collected the rookie weekly honors eight times this season—the most of any Patriot League team—and seems destined to earn the yearly honor for best rookie at season’s end. So what does the success of this youth movement mean?

It means that Coach Moseley is demonstrating herself to be one of the top mentors and motivators in the league. It’s a credit to Moseley and her staff that the Terriers can field a line-up and playing rotation that features multiple freshmen and position their team for a playoff push in the top half of the league.

The rookies are meeting the challenge—and so is everyone else, including coaches and returning players. The buy-in and team-first approach to competition is a delicate balance for everyone, especially when freshmen earn their way into a playing rotation.

Accepting roles and excelling in them is at the heart of team success. At BU, the freshmen are rising to the demands of bigger roles and other players are meeting the challenge of changing responsibilities. The kids are alright.

Home court magic sparks Colgate

In a venue that once hosted a Grateful Dead concert, Colgate is putting together a history-making season. The Raiders have won 10 straight games at Cotterell Court, breaking the program record for consecutive home victories and propelling the team into second place in the Patriot League.

The Raiders are in a New York state of mind and seem to like it that way. The team is 12-0 in games played in the state, topping Cornell and Canisius in addition to their home court streak. As the playoff picture comes into focus, Colgate is battling for a top seed and the right to host at tournament time. What does the home court edge mean to their performance?

Colgate is the top scoring team in the conference at 68.6 points per game and the best shooting team with a 43.4% mark. But the comforts of home make their offense come alive. Colgate is shooting 48.2% from the field at home (307-for-637) compared to just 39.2% on the road (281-for-717). Away from home, they score 61.0 points per game. At Cotterell, they’re scoring a whopping 77.7 points a game.

The home hardwood has been a place for some magical moments this season. There was a buzzer-beating three-pointer from junior guard Keelah Dixon that forced overtime and lifted Colgate to a 70-67 come-from-behind victory over Yale. And a 63-62 win over American that snapped a 27-game losing streak to Eagles—a contest that saw each team score in the final few seconds of regulation.

There have also been some record-setting performances this season in Cotterell. The 80-55 win over Navy on January 11th was the largest margin of victory in 29 years. And Colgate’s 100-point total in a 100-94 win over Army tied a record while their 57-point half and 63.3% field goal shooting percentage each set new program marks.

The previous home winning streak record was seven games—set by the 2003-2004 Raiders on their way to the program’s only Patriot League championship. Can Colgate repeat that run with this season’s home court edge?

Colgate’s 65-53 road win last week at Navy secured their second winning season in program history and moved their mark to 16-6 overall and 8-3 in league play. Senior guard Haley Greer led the team with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. The victory squared their road record at 6-6 as they head home to put their streak on the line versus Boston University and Loyola (MD) this week.

The Raiders will need some of that Cotterell magic to keep their goal of hosting in the playoffs within sight. The league is balanced and the top five teams are separated by just two games in the standings. Looking ahead, they have a February 26 rematch against a first-place Bucknell team that dominated play in a 66-43 loss, and a season-ending match-up with Lehigh, a pre-season title favorite.

Current Standings

Bucknell (16-6, 9-2)

Colgate (16-6, 8-3)

Lehigh (15-7, 7-4)

Boston University (12-10, 7-4)

Lafayette (11-10, 7-4)

Holy Cross (13-9, 6-5)

American (9-12, 5-6)

Loyola (MD) (6-16, 3-8)

Navy (7-15, 2-9)

Army (5-17, 1-10)

Game of the Week:

Lehigh at Holy Cross @7:00p.m. February 12th

A key league battle with playoff seeding and home court implications. Lehigh holds a one-game lead over the Crusaders in the standings and needs a win to solidify a top-three playoff position. A Holy Cross win will give them a season sweep and the tiebreaker edge coming down the stretch. This one should have a playoff-type atmosphere and could be a turning point for both the winner and loser.

These programs were favored by their peers to finish at the top of the conference in the Patriot League pre-season polls but each has struggled. Holy Cross has dropped three of their last four games as their early season success from behind the arc has faded. Lehigh has won two straight after dropping four in a row but still seeks consistency in their perimeter game and rotation.

Lehigh heads to Worcester with an impressive 8-2 road mark. Holy Cross brings a 7-2 home record and an interior presence for which the Mountain Hawks had no answer in the first match-up. Expect plenty of zone from the Lehigh defense and a game that will be much closer than round one. The Crusaders lead the all-time series, 45-25.

The last meeting: January 22, 2020. Holy Cross grabbed a convincing road win, 74-57. Senior forward Lauren Manis led the way for the Crusaders with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Lehigh trailed 40-20 at the break and had difficulty defending the interior. Manis and forward Megan Swords shot a combined 17-for-25 and grabbed 27 boards. Emma Grothaus led the Mountain Hawks with 13 points off the bench.

Tune in to Patriot League action this week:

February 12th

American at Loyola (MD) @6:00p.m.

Navy at Bucknell @6:00p.m.

Lehigh at Holy Cross @7:00p.m.

Boston University at Colgate @7:00p.m.

Army at Lafayette @7:00p.m.

Saturday February 15th

Navy at Boston University @1:00p.m.

Army at Lehigh @2:00p.m.

Loyola (MD) at  Colgate @2:00p.m.

Holy Cross at Lafayette @2:00p.m.

Bucknell at American @2:00pm.

League news and notes:

  • Senior forward Ellie Mack has led Bucknell in scoring four consecutive games. She scored a team-high 18 points (8-of-13) in a 66-42 victory over Loyola (MD).
  • Lafayette’s Natalie Kucowski recorded her 14th double-double of the season with a team-high 22 points and 19 rebounds in a loss to Lehigh.
  • Minnesota native Megan Walker nailed a career-high seven three-pointers in Lehigh’s 73-66 win over Lafayette. The sophomore led the team with 23 points.
  • Colgate leads the Patriot League with 17.0 assists per game.
  • Senior point guard Madalyn Smith of Holy Cross leads the league with 5.0 assists per game.
  • League leaders Bucknell are also the top three-point shooting team in the conference with 7.2 threes per game.
  • Freshman Sydney Johnson of Boston University leads all rookies in minutes played with 30.0 minutes per game—good for 18th in the conference. Johnson has played in each of BU’s 22 games.
  • Three of the top ten scorers in the Patriot League play for Holy Cross. Lauren Manis (17.3 ppg, 1st), Avery LaBarbera (13.8 ppg, 6th) and Megan Swords (12.2 ppg, 10th) combine to score 43.3 of the Crusaders 66.2 points per game.

Patriot League Player of the Week:

Jade Edwards, American University, Sophomore Guard

  • Scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 67-62 overtime win at Army.
  • Edwards numbers against the Knights marked her second double-double on the season and fourth of her career.
  • Leads the Eagles in shooting at 46.1%, hitting 100-for-216 from the floor.
  • Edwards tops American in scoring at 14.2 ppg and rebounding with 6.4 rpg.

Patriot League Rookie of the Week:

Maggie Pina, Boston University, Freshman Guard

  • Honored for the second straight week—and fifth time this season–as league rookie of the week.
  • Has started the last 15 games for the Terriers. BU’s record when Pina starts is 9-6.
  • Second on the team in scoring at 11.3 ppg. Leads the team in free throw shooting at 72.9%.
  • Pina converted five three-pointers in a 62-51 road win over Holy Cross to earn a season-sweep of the Crusaders.

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