There’s a look that comes over Carly Boland’s face when she wants to take a 3-point shot.
BU head coach Linda Cimino knows it.
Her teammates know it.
“I can always tell when she wants the ball, and when I know she’s going to hit the shot,” said junior guard Imani Watkins. “[Carly Boland is] really quiet, but when she gets that look in her eyes and when she’s on her toes, she really wants it.”
On Thursday night against Hartford, in a rematch of a disheartening double-overtime loss earlier this season, the freshman guard got that look in her eyes. Down by two with just over a minute remaining in regulation, the Bearcats hinged all their hopes on the 6-foot rookie.
Boland came through in the clutch, sinking the three and propelling her team to a well-fought 60-59 victory. Anyone holding a stat sheet, though, could have guessed that. Boland has carved out a place for herself as a player Cimino relies on to provide a spark off the bench. She leads BU and the conference in 3-point percentage (48.3 percent).
In BU’s first three games of the season, Boland was on the court for an average of six minutes. In the Bearcats’ three most recent contests, she has averaged 21 minutes. According to Cimino, the increase in playing time has grown alongside the freshman’s confidence on the floor.
“[Carly] Boland is a great player,” Cimino said. “It’s a confidence issue for her. The more she plays, the better she’s going to get and the more comfortable she’s going to be.”
According to Cimino, Boland struggled early on adjusting to college basketball’s increased rate of play.
“The pace of this game has hurt her a little bit getting started, but I think the more she plays, the more comfortable she’s going to be, and she’s going to be a great player for us,” Cimino said.
Cimino’s belief in Boland’s abilities has been a key aspect of Boland’s development.
“[The increased playing time] gives me a lot confidence,” Boland said. “It feels good to have coach [Cimino] trust me and that she knows I can trust myself when it comes to handling the ball on the floor.”
Boland played varsity for four years at Shenendehowa High School, where she was named first-team all-state by the New York State Sportswriters Association, averaged 19.3 points per game during her senior season and propelled her team to an appearance in the state championship game.
In the Bearcats’ conference-opening win over UMBC, she drained four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 16 points. While she has excelled from beyond the arc, Boland still wants to improve her game.
“One of my goals is to get to the hoop more efficiently and score in different ways other than shooting threes,” Boland said.
As the Bearcats head into the postseason, they will need to rely on clutch performers like Boland in close matchups.
“[Coming through in key moments] feels pretty good, not only because it helps us score points to get the win,” she said. “It increases my confidence to take shots like that in the regular season but also in the postseason, and I can trust myself when it comes to crunch time.”