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B-ball Teams Head to AE Tournament

Men’s and women’s squads play this weekend

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chantel_bball_h.jpg

No sophomore slump for Chantell Alford (CGS’11): she is averaging a conference-best 15 points per game this season. John Holland (CGS’09, COM’11) (below), with a 19.2 point average this season, is on pace to become the fourth-ever player in America East history to lead the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons. Photos by Steve McLaughlin

For the first time since 2003, both the Terrier men’s and women’s basketball teams are looking to advance to the finals of the America East tournament.

Each squad enters the tournament, which begins Friday, March 4, at the University of Hartford, as the number-two seed, with identical 12-4 conference records, marking the best combined result since 2002. A solid mix of experience and youth and the players’ focus on a team-oriented style of play rather than individual stardom contributed greatly to the success of both teams this season.

Women’s basketball
Led by head coach Kelly Greenberg, the BU women’s starting five consists of two sophomores, two juniors, and a senior. Averaging 15 points per game, guard Chantell Alford (CGS’11) is on pace to become the first Terrier to lead the league in scoring since Katie Terhune (CAS’04), in 2002. Forward Kerry Cashman (SHA’11) is working hard on the defensive end, ranking second in the conference for blocks, at 1.5 per game, and third for rebounds, at 8.6 per game.

With the help of starters Caroline Stewart (COM’12), Alex Young (COM’12), and Mo Moran (CAS’13), the team is first in the America East in scoring, at 63.3 points per game. The Terriers’ road to their seventh America East final in nine years began January 2 with a 78-40 home victory over Maine. That win ignited a 10-game winning streak that helped the Terriers grab the number-two seed.

Tomorrow’s Terrier postseason starts with a noon game against defending champion Vermont, a team BU has faced in six of the previous eight tournaments. The winner advances to Sunday’s semifinals to play the winner of the Binghamton–New Hampshire game. The title game will be held the following Saturday, March 12, at the home court of the highest remaining seed.

Men’s basketball
On Saturday, the Terrier men face New Hampshire in their quarterfinal matchup, starting at 6 p.m. Under second-year head coach Patrick Chambers, the Terriers entered the season with only three members from last year’s squad, which brought the team to its 14th America East final.

Forward Jake O’Brien (COM’12), one of the three returning, suffered a season-ending foot injury on December 31, just before the start of conference play. After BU struggled against Maine in the first game minus the former AE Rookie of the Year, John Holland (CGS’09, COM’11) put the team on solid footing, recording more than 20 points in five consecutive contests (a personal best) before finishing the regular season at the top of the league rankings in scoring, at 19.2 points per game.

BU Men's Baskeball vs. Maine 2/1/11 - Holland gets his 2000 point and then some. Photo courtesy of BU Photography.

BU Men’s Baskeball vs. Maine 2/1/11 – Holland gets his 2000 point and then some. Photo courtesy of BU Photography.

Holland recently reached a remarkable milestone: he became the seventh player in America East history to record 2,000 career points and 700 rebounds. He’s also set to become the fourth ever to lead the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons. His stellar accomplishments, though, are only part of the team’s earning its highest seed since 2004.

Guard Darryl Partin (MET’12) has played a crucial role this season, averaging 16.9 points since the start of conference play. Directing the offense are D. J. Irving (CGS’12) and Matt Griffin (SMG’12), who are combining for 5.4 assists and 14.4 points per game.

With nine seniors graduating last May, the Terriers lost much of their offensive firepower, resulting in the team’s scoring average dropping from 72.2 to 65.7 points per game. As a result, Chambers has stressed defense even more this year, and players have responded, most notably forwards Patrick Hazel (COM’12) and Dom Morris (CGS’12).

BU is entering the tournament on a high note—one of just 10 teams in the country with a perfect record in February. However, the Terriers face a New Hampshire Wildcats squad that has already beaten them once this season and that boasts the league’s best defense. Should the Terriers advance, they will face tough competition from the winner of the Maine–University of Hartford game on Sunday. A win then secures a berth in the championship game, on Saturday, March 12.

March Madness is upon the nation, and both the men’s and women’s teams hope to make program history by capturing titles in the same season.

The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships Presented by Newman’s Own are being held at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, Conn. The women tip off on Friday, March 4, at noon, against Vermont, with the winner advancing to the Sunday, March 6, semifinal matchup, at 11 a.m. The men face New Hampshire on Saturday, March 5, at 6 p.m., and the winner competes the following day at 7:30 p.m. The finals for both tournaments will be held on Saturday, March 12, at the home court of the highest remaining seed.

More information on the tournament, including tickets, lodging and directions, can be found here.

Scott Ellis can be reached at msellis@bu.edu.

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