The Boston University women’s basketball team ended its season on Monday with a 57-51 loss to American University in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament. The game marked the end of Nia Irving’s first season of college basketball, and the Lawrence High School graduate is ready to get to work on her sophomore season.
Irving helped the Terriers improve by 10 wins, from 3-27 in 2015-16 to 13-17, including 11-7 in conference play, this season. In the conference’s preseason poll, BU was predicted to finish last in the 10-team league. A 6-foot-1 forward, Irving was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team.
“As a team, we improved so much,” said Irving, who was Miss Maine Basketball in 2016. “To finish fifth (in the Patriot League) and get a first round bye is a really big deal for us.”
Irving played in 19 games, starting five. She averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She shot 40.7 percent from the field (46 for 113) and 76.1 percent from the free throw line (51 for 67). She also played an average of 18.2 minutes per game. A stress fracture in her right foot caused Irving to miss the entire preseason as well as the Terriers’ first 10 games. Missing that much time early meant Irving never hit a fatigue wall that sometimes comes as freshmen adjust to the longer college basketball season.
“I was really ready to go after missing that much time,” Irving said.
Irving’s best game came Jan. 2 against Lehigh, her third game of the season. She scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds — both game highs — in a come-from-behind 69-64 victory. On Jan. 18, Irving had another double-double, with 13 points and 12 rebounds in a 96-87 double overtime loss to Colgate. In a Feb. 15 rematch with Colgate, Irving scored nine points and grabbed 12 boards. The Lehigh game was Irving’s best of the season, but she felt she was playing with the most confidence later in the season. That came with experience, Irving said, and will continue to grow.
“I just relax. Don’t try to do too much. I feel like I improved during the season. As the season wore on, I got more comfortable,” Irving said.
In the offseason, Irving said she’ll work on her outside game so she can stretch the floor. Irving also wants to work on her court awareness, knowing where her teammates will be and act more on instinct. That, like confidence, comes with experience.
A physical therapy major, Irving said she’ll come home for six weeks at the end of the semester before going back to Boston for BU’s six-week summer session.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242