After two overwhelming semifinal wins, the Boston University Terriers and the Hartford University Hawks are set to duke it out tomorrow in the America East women’s basketball championships for the right to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
In the quarterfinal round, second-seeded Boston got the win over No. 7-seeded University of Vermont 62-38 with a complete defensive effort. Sophomore Chantell Alford had a 24-point performance and helped her team advance. Next, Boston defeated third-seeded Binghamton University 59-44 in the first semifinal. What started out as a back-and-forth game through much of the first half ended in a blowout as the Terriers took control of the game in the second half. Junior Alex Young scored 26 of her career-high 37 points in the second half to thwart any kind of late push the Bearcats might have been capable of.
The first test in the conference tournament for fourth-seeded Hartford was fifth seed University at Albany. In a game that was within one point with under a minute to play, the Hawks were able to squeeze out a 47-43 victory. Sophomores Daphne Elliott and Ruthanne Doherty both contributed 11 points in the winning effort. Hartford was then staring down the barrel of a matchup with top-seeded UMBC. In a major upset in which they never trailed, the Hawks trounced the Retrievers 66-48. The Hawks were led by Elliott and sophomore Alex Hall. Elliott finished with a team-high 13 points, while Hall added 11. This was Hartford’s first win against UMBC in tournament play, with their only other meeting being the 2007 title game.
This will be the fourth time in the last seven years that the Hawks and Terriers have squared off in the America East Championship game. This title match will also mark the 10th consecutive time one of the two teams is featured in the game.
The Terriers have a fearsome threesome at their disposal that will prove to be a major test for the Hawks. Alford, Young and junior Caroline Stewart are all All-Conference players who entered the conference tournament committed to winning a championship. Alford, who led the conference in scoring this year with 15.2 points per game, is also this year’s America East Player of the Year.
Boston’s offensive potential is their biggest threat. The Terriers led the conference this year with 63.1 points per game and a +3.2 scoring margin. Their .388 field goal percentage also led the conference and they finished inside the top three for 3-point percentage with .399.
Hartford, although not the offensive powerhouse their opponents are, is crafty with the ball and has proven it can get the job done. The Hawks finished third in the conference with 12.2 assists a game (Boston finished first with 13.2 assists a game) and second in the conference with a 0.8 assist/turnover ratio.
Another major advantage the Terriers will have over the Hawks is home court. In their seven title game appearances, the Hawks have only been on the road once. They lost that game 48-46 when they played UMBC at Binghamton’s Events Center.
In the two games that these two squads have played in against each other this season, the home team has won each game. On Jan. 23, it was Boston beating Hartford 58-50, while on Feb. 13 Hartford got the best of Boston with a 66-59 victory.
The title game is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow in Boston’s Case Gym. The winner of the game receives an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.