When word began to trickle out about Nia Irving’s effort for the Boston University women’s basketball team in Monday’s 69-64 win over Lehigh, Irving began to receive the text messages, calls and social media shoutouts. That’s going to happen when you score a game-high 26 points and grab a game-high 10 rebounds in just your third college basketball game.

“It’s been great. Everyone’s so supportive,” Irving said in a phone interview Tuesday night.

A freshman at BU, Irving was Miss Maine Basketball for Lawrence High School last season. The 6-foot-1 forward’s debut was delayed by a stress fracture in her right foot, but if Monday’s effort is any indication, Irving is ready for college basketball.

“Recovery time was two and a half months,” Irving said of the injury, which kept her sidelined for most of the preseason and all of the Terriers’ first 10 games.

Boston University is 4-9, 2-0 in Patriot League games. Is it a happy coincidence that since Irving has been able to play, the Terriers are 3-0?

“Yes. Definitely just a coincidence,” said Irving, who earned league rookie of the week honors.

BU trailed 47-32 entering the fourth quarter at Lehigh, before Irving and her teammates went off. Irving scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Terriers overcome the deficit to score 37 points in the fourth and win by five. Lehigh still led by 11 with 3:38 to play, but strong defensive pressure helped spark the BU rally, Irving said. Irving’s final bucket put the Terriers ahead for good with 28 seconds left.

“I had caught an offensive rebound and I was trying to look for an open teammate,” Irving said. “I couldn’t see anybody so I took a hook shot underneath the basket.”

Irving’s first points of the game came 46 seconds after she checked in midway through the first quarter. She converted the three-point play, setting the tone for the game. Irving made 12 of 13 free throws. With teammates, including Sophie Beaudry, Kara Sheftic and Meghan Green also drawing attention in the low post, Irving was able to play with confidence.

“It’s not like high school. People can’t double team me so I can get an open shot,” Irving said. “It really helps when I started being aggressive, scoring-wise, and look for opportunities for myself and my teammates… I just worked to be ready when I got my shot.”

Irving’s first game action of the season came Dec. 14, when she played three minutes in the Terriers’ 64-60 win over UMass. They were three uneventful minutes. The only statistic next to Irving’s name in the box score is one personal foul. She took no shots, she had no rebounds. Those three minutes could be considered ornamental, if not for the fact that Irving was relieved to finally get on the court.

“I knew I would be rusty because I hadn’t played in a competitive game since the AAU season,” Irving said.

BU had 16 days off before its next game, Dec. 30 against Holy Cross, to start the conference schedule. The Terriers won, 66-49, with Irving coming off the bench to play 19 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds.

It’s all Patriot League games for the Terriers the rest of the regular season. The next game is Friday at home against Navy. Irving chalked up her big game Monday in part to just one of those nights, and in part to being an unknown commodity in the Terriers’ lineup.

“People probably didn’t know I was on the roster,” Irving said. “I just want to contribute as much as I can. We really want to make a statement, that we’re not to be joked with in the Patriot League.”

If the Terriers make a run in the conference, by the end of the season everybody in the league will know Nia Irving.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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