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BU’s Shooting Star

Women’s b-ball guard Alford a consummate team player

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At 5’8”, Terrier Chantell Alford doesn’t tower over people the way many basketball players do. In fact, her stature gives no indication of just how intimidating the guard from West Haven, Conn., can be on the court. It’s not until you see Alford with a ball that you realize what a powerhouse she is.

Alford (CGS’11, MET’13) has torn up the America East conference the past three years. As a freshman, she won the Rookie of the Year Award. She’s been named to the All-Conference team each year and has been Player of the Year the past two seasons. Should she earn that title again this year, she would be the first woman ever to win the award three times.

Despite all the recognition for her individual talent, Alford is quick to credit her teammates for much of her success.

“I have my teammates to thank,” Alford says. “I win it on their behalf, because I don’t just do it by myself. Their presence and their work ethic every day helps everyone, and so it’s definitely a team award.”

Alford’s modesty is underscored when she names her favorite memory as a Terrier. She cites a game from freshman year—during a December 2009 holiday tournament in Philadelphia—when BU defeated the University of South Carolina 68-67. Alford shot a below average 5-for-14 from the field and finished with 13 points, third best on the team for that game. Why that game over a career-high 30-point performance against West Virginia or a 28-point performance freshman year against Vermont?

“That was just a big team win, and we were all excited about it,” Alford says, smiling at the memory. “It was a great experience in my first year playing here.”

Chantell Alford, Boston University BU Terriers women's basketball, America East Player of the Year

Alford led BU last year with 12.4 points per game, finishing seventh in America East. Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Alford recounts another happy memory: a Thanksgiving break trip to the home of teammate Whitney Turner (CAS’14). While the team was eating dinner, Alford and Kristen Sims (CGS’11, COM’13) entertained the guests with a spontaneous show of choreographed dances. The performance led coach Kelly Greenberg to dub Alford the “dancing machine,” and the nickname stuck.

“I may seem quiet at first and shy, but when I get to know people, I’m pretty outgoing,” Alford acknowledges. “The coaches and my teammates have always been there, supporting me trying to get better as a person first and a basketball player second. There’s so much support and help around here. It’s just been great.”

Not always a sharpshooter

Alford started playing organized basketball at age seven, influenced, she says, by her mother and her brother. Still, she admits, she wasn’t always the sharpshooter she’s proven to be at BU.

“When I was younger I would run into the corner and just huddle over the ball,” she recalls, laughing. “I didn’t really do much. My mom always got on me about that, so that’s definitely changed a lot.”

It was when playing on the Wilbur Cross High School team that Alford discovered a real passion for the game. She credits her coaches and teammates there with helping her “live out a dream.”

She was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Team senior year and made the New Haven Register’s All-State Second Team. Despite those accolades, Alford says, she wasn’t highly recruited out of high school.

She received calls from Hofstra University and several in-state schools, but never a big offer. Enter Greenberg. Alford says that from the moment she arrived on campus for her official visit, she knew she wanted to call BU home.

“I came here and I just loved the way the team and coaches interacted,” she says. “They were all just like one big family, and I really liked that. It’s a great city, it’s not too far from home, and my mom’s still able to come to a lot of the games. That’s something that’s very important to me. I just knew BU was the place.”

Chantell Alford, Boston University BU Terriers women's basketball, America East Player of the Year

Alford shot 80 percent from beyond the arc and finished with 22 points as the Terriers upset number 17/15 St. John’s on December 1. Photo by Alex Trautwig

As a Terrier, Alford fit in immediately, averaging a team-high 14.9 points per game freshman year and breaking the freshman scoring record, with 447 points. Now, three years later, she finds herself with 1,494 points (as of December 8), fourth on the Terriers all-time scoring list. She has already been named America East Player of the Week three times this season and appears to be well on her way to that third Player of the Year trophy.

After two years at the College of General Studies, Alford is majoring in criminal justice at Metropolitan College. She hopes to pursue her hoop dreams after graduation. “I would love to continue to play basketball, but if that falls through, I definitely want to get into federal law enforcement and work with the Drug Enforcement Agency. We’ll see.”

BU’s decision to move from the America East Conference to the Patriot League next season has resulted in the AE banning all BU teams from competing in the 2013 AE postseason, but Alford and her teammates still have a shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a strong regular season performance.

The team has played above expectations, defeating 17th-ranked St. John’s University and narrowly losing to 14th-ranked West Virginia 60-57. Throughout the season, Alford has been at the center of it all, averaging nearly 20 points per game, outscoring the next closest player in America East by 5 points. Still, her goals remain centered on the team as a whole, not on herself.

“We want to win some games that people think we shouldn’t win and win games we know we should win,” she says. “In the conference, we definitely want to go undefeated, because we’re riding that thin line of not being able to participate in the America East tournament. We’re an unselfish team. We don’t mind who gets the credit, just as long as we’re all playing together as one. We’re just happy with that.”

The BU women’s basketball team faces off against the Harvard University Crimson tonight, Monday, December 10, at 7 p.m. at Case Gymnasium, 285 Babcock St. Tickets are $7 for the general public, $5 for BU students, faculty, and staff, and free with a sports pass.

Paul Ryan can be reached at pryan15@bu.edu.

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