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Women’s Hoops Meets Rival at Case Gym

Terriers host America East’s New Hampshire tonight

Cheri Raffo (SAR’08) scored 15 points against Albany on Jan. 14. Photo by Rob Klein

The women’s basketball Terriers lost twice to New Hampshire last year, but they won when it counted most — in the America East tournament. Nonetheless, when BU hosts the Wildcats tonight, coach Kelly Greenberg wants her players to concentrate on the present.

“We don’t want to wait until the tournament to turn it on,” she says. “We’ve talked about being a more consistent team in the regular season.” So at the 7 p.m. tip-off in Case Gym, Greenberg won’t be thinking about the past — not BU’s 66-60 win against New Hampshire in last year’s conference quarterfinal or her team’s dismal 0-3 start this season against America East opponents.

BU (9-9 overall, 1-4 America East) has been streaky this year, winning its first three games in November and then winning three straight in mid-December. But then the Terriers lost four in a row, dropping decisions to Duke and conference foes Maryland–Baltimore County, Vermont, and Stony Brook. Losing to top-ranked Duke didn’t rock their world, but bowing to a trio of America East teams really hurt.

BU didn’t stay down for long, though, rebounding with a 72-64 victory over Albany on January 14 for its first America East win. “It didn’t happen for us in the first three conference games, but I told the girls that we don’t give up our goals — that we can still bounce back,” says Greenberg. “We went into the Albany game knowing that we didn’t want to focus on the losing streak. We wanted to focus on BU basketball and getting back to basics.”

The usual suspects put up big numbers in the game against Albany: Erica Kovach (CAS’07) scored 16 points and had 7 rebounds and 3 steals, and Katie Meinhardt (MET’07) finished with a game-high 17 points. Cheri Raffo (SAR’08) has surged of late, pouring in 15 points in the Albany game. Raffo, who had knee surgery prior to the season, scored 16 points in the first game, then began to struggle. “Her goal was to not miss a game, and she came back quickly — and in hindsight she probably came back too quickly,” says Greenberg. “She went through some trying times, but since the Duke game Cheri has come back to Cheri Raffo form. She’s playing aggressively on both ends of the court. I’m excited for her — it seems like she’s gotten her confidence back.” Raffo scored a team-high 18 points in last year’s America East tournament win over New Hampshire.

New Hampshire (6-11 overall, 1-4 America East) is led by seniors Danielle Clark and Whitney Edwards, who each posted 16 points and 7 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 58-55 overtime victory over Binghamton on January 17. Clark and Edwards are the iron women of the Wildcats: Clark has played in all 103 games of her career, and Edwards will mark her 79th appearance in the starting lineup.

Greenberg says her team has changed its playing style in the past two weeks of practice, slowing down its offense, partly because of past injuries to Kovach, Meinhardt, Raffo, and Jesyka Burks-Wiley (CAS’09), who missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season because of a torn meniscus. “A few players are physically beaten right now, so we’re focusing our half-court game and not looking to press on defense,” the coach says.

The key to beating New Hampshire, according to Greenberg, is ball possession and managing the shot clock. “We want to take care of the ball and get good shots,” she says.

Brian Fitzgerald can be reached at bfitzger@bu.edu.