Saturday, March 7, 2009

Women's Basketball Live Blog: University at Albany vs. Boston University

Women’s Basketball Live Blog: University at Albany vs. Boston University

BU has already clinched the America East regular-season title and the top seed in next weekend’s conference tournament. Albany (5-23, 3-12 AE) is already locked into Thursday’s 8 vs. 9 play-in game against Maine. Despite those truths, today’s game is anything but meaningless.

The Terriers (21-6, 15-0) have a chance to complete the fifth perfect regular season in the 25-year history of America East, and the first since Maine in 2002-03. BU is one of just five teams in the country still unbeaten in its respective conference.

It’s also Senior Day at The Roof, where the four members of the winningest class in program history will be playing for the last time. Not only are Jesyka Burks-Wiley, Kristi Dini, Christine Kinneary and Amarachi Umez-Eronini arguably the greatest group of seniors the team has ever seen, they are also the pistons that drive BU’s engine.

Each member of the Terriers’ fearsome foursome has her own specialty, and they can all make a claim to be the best in the conference in their respective areas of expertise.

Burks-Wiley is the inside presence, the go-to scorer and topic number one in every opponent’s team meetings. She has been named the conference Player of the Week five times and ranks second in scoring (18.1 points per game), rebounding (7.5 per game) and defensive rebounding (5.2 per game). There is no more complete forward in the conference, and possibly no better candidate for the Player of the Year award.

Dini is the sharp-shooting 3-point specialist that will decimate any defense that has the brazenness to leave her open. She places first in the conference and third in the country in treys per game (3.2) and is BU’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers.

If BU’s seniors are the pistons to the team’s engine, Kinneary is the crankshaft that makes everything turn. The all-time BU assists leader’s 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is good for first in America East and ninth in the nation, and her 5.1 assists per game peg her second in the conference.

Umez-Eronini is the tenacious defender who refuses to stop moving and whose energy radiates throughout the team. Her 2.6 steals per game are tops in the conference, and her habit of shutting down the opposition’s best offensive player may just land her Defensive Player of the Year honors.

If this quartet can combine its four different playing styles in the same way it has all season, it will be able to pass an 18-game home winning streak in conference play onto next year’s team in its last will.

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