Women’s basketball season ends with quarterfinals loss to BU
Offensive woes sink Eagles, Marenyi and Bartner’s careers come to a close
The AU women’s basketball season ended Monday with a 46-44 loss to Boston University inside the Case Gym in Boston. While AU (13-17, 8-10 PL) never trailed by more than six points in the game, it couldn’t get the offense going fast enough to upset the second-seeded Terriers (18-12, 12-6 PL).
Despite a late push from sophomore guard Jade Edwards, a nine-minute scoring drought for the Eagles gave the Terriers just enough leeway to squeak out a victory.
“Really tough loss, obviously not the way we wanted to end our season,” head coach Megan Gebbia said. “It was tough because we just couldn’t make shots.”
It turned out to be the final game of the season for both teams, as the Patriot League and NCAA ultimately decided to cancel its tournaments due to concerns over the COVID 19 novel coronavirus. With the season cut short, top-seeded Bucknell (24-6, 16-2 PL) will finish with its second straight conference championship.
AU struggled to get off to good starts late in the season, but came out of the gate with high-intensity defense, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
While AU committed the fewest fouls per-game in the Patriot League this season, BU decisively won the battle at the line on Monday, as the Terriers connected on 16 of their 18 opportunities (including all six first-quarter attempts) to take a 10-9 lead. AU, conversely, registered season-low totals in both free throws made (4) and attempted (6).
“I mean they scored 46 points and made 16 shots from the line, so if you don’t foul them for at least half of that amount you cut their point total in the 30,” Gebbia said.
Sophomore guard Jade Edwards, who is typically tasked with defending opposing bigs, sat for much of the first half after getting into foul trouble early, creating issues against BU’s taller roster. Edwards led the team with 6.9 rebounds per game this season but could only sit idly as the Eagles were outrebounded 22-8 in the first half.
“We put them on the line a little too much and didn’t rebound in the first half,” Gebbia said. “But I think we did a better job in the second half.”
As the second quarter got underway, junior guard and Patriot League all-defensive team selection Indeya Sanders gave the team a boost on the offensive end, scoring seven straight to give AU its first lead of the game. The Terriers battled back throughout the quarter to take a two-point lead into halftime — or so they thought.
With less than a second left to go in the quarter, senior guard Kaitlyn Marenyi hit the equalizer over a crowd of BU defenders, knotting up the score at 22-22.
Just when it seemed like the offense might start to pick up, AU would endure one of its worst offensive stretches of the season. After sophomore forward Taylor Brown hit a layup with 4:31 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 26-26, AU would go on to miss its next 11 shots over nine minutes of play.
The Terriers lead grew to just six thanks to a number of key AU stops, but in a game that featured minimal offense, that stretch proved to be the final dagger in AU’s season.
“We had opportunities and just couldn’t convert,” Gebbia said. “Sometimes that can be nerves or tightness … I know our kids feel badly about it but I’m really proud of how they played.”
Edwards hit two threes in the final ten seconds of the fourth quarter to bring the score within two, but AU simply ran out of the time they needed to even up the score. AU fouled the Terriers with one second left but the referees determined that the foul came after the buzzer.
After the determination, several AU players stood stunned on the court, under the impression there was still time on the clock.
The Terriers relied on their stars to carry the team, as all but two of BU’s points came from its starting lineup. Freshman center Maggie Duran led the way for the Terriers with 12 points to go along with a season-high 15 rebounds. Junior guard Katie Nelson and Patriot League rookie of the year guard Maggie Pina both registered double-digit points and played all 40 minutes of the contest.
The loss marked the final game for senior guard Kaitlyn Marenyi and senior forward Morgan Bartner.
Marenyi closed out her AU career with over 800 points, 250 rebounds, and 200 assists to go along with a long list of accomplishments. During her four years in D.C., Marenyi earned a nod to the Patriot League’s third team (2020), all-academic team (2020) all-tournament team (2019) and as a Patriot League champion (2018).
Marenyi also set the school record for 3-point percentage in a season (46.4%) during the 2019 season and finished her career with over 100 3-pointers made.
“[She’s meant] everything,” Gebbia said. “Her words were gold. She understood what the coaching staff was trying to accomplish. She’s given everything to this program and you just love a kid that eats it, that breathes it … I’m so proud of her.”
Bartner, who transferred to AU after two seasons at Marist college, became an integral part of the team this season. Bartner started all 29 games she played this year, averaging six points and three rebounds while being one of the only forwards and upperclassmen on the roster.
Largely as a result of its inexperienced roster, this was AU’s lowest placement in the Patriot League standings since its seventh-place finish in the 2015-2016 season.
Most of AU’s key players, including Edwards, Sanders and sophomore guard Emily Fisher, will return next season as the team looks to build upon its young roster.
“I’m excited for next year’s group coming back and their ability to play hard,” Gebbia said. “What you saw today was championship style defense — now we just need to add the offense to it. If we can do that, I like our chances next year.”