Women’s basketball tops Buffalo for first win before falling to Niagara

After opening the year with eight straight losses, the Binghamton University women’s basketball team secured its first win of the season on Saturday, topping University at Buffalo, 65-60, at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena. Two days later, though, the Bearcats’ chances at a new kind of streak would come to an abrupt end as Binghamton fell to Niagara University at home, 63-57, on Monday night.

In Saturday’s game, Binghamton sophomore forward Sherae Swinson and junior guard Jasbriell Swain led BU (1-9) in scoring with 11 points each. Swain also collected nine boards to go along with a season-high five steals.

BU head coach Nicole Scholl said she was happy her team ended its losing streak.

“I thought they came out and played hard,” she said. “We have had some close games that we’ve been unable to finish out so it was nice to finish this game out with a win.”

Aided by six Binghamton turnovers, Buffalo (1-9) blazed out to a 17-7 lead early in the first half.

But Swain willed the Bearcats back into the game by sparking a 12-3 run in which she forced a pair of turnovers and connected on an open jumper to knot the game at 20 midway through the first half. There were three ties from that point until freshman forward Morgan Murphy scored a basket to put BU up 28-26 at intermission.

Binghamton extended its lead to 36-30 with over 12 minutes left in regulation, but Buffalo would not go away quietly. The Bulls trailed BU by one, 51-50, after junior guard Margeaux Gupilan connected on a 3-pointer.

BU junior guard Vaneeshia Paulk kept the Bulls at arm’s length with a 5-0 run of her own to push Binghamton’s lead to 56-50.

Buffalo continued to put the pressure on the Bearcats. Gupilan, who finished the contest with a game-high 20 points, connected on another 3-pointer to bring the Bulls to within one, 61-60, with seven seconds left in regulation.

But Binghamton managed to ice the game at the free throw line by going 4-for-4 in the waning seconds.

After committing 18 turnovers in the first half, BU turned the ball over only five times in the second half. Binghamton also outrebounded Buffalo 43-29.

Against Niagara (4-4) Monday night, Binghamton fought back from an early 12-point deficit in the first half but couldn’t complete the comeback.

“It was frustrating tonight,” Scholl said. “I thought we let one slip away and we had our chances at it. Give Niagara credit, they kept fighting the whole game and started off the first half well. I thought overall we played a great second half, we came out with the same energy we had up at Buffalo with our win up there and now its just matter of us being more consistent.”

After two lead changes and three ties to begin the first half, the Purple Eagles pulled away with a 12-0 run to create separation en route to a 35-22 halftime lead. Swain accounted for half of the Bearcats’ points.

“Everybody knows that I am a defensive player,” Swain said. “I was just able to help my teammates, and they put me in positions where I could score.”

In the second half, Binghamton’s defensive intensity put the wheels in motion for a 17-4 BU run that would tie the game at 39 at the 12:39 mark. Swain and senior guard Mallory Lawes accounted for eight of the Bearcats’ 17 points during that stretch. Junior guard Stephanie Jensen hit a 3-pointer to put Binghamton up 42-41, but Niagara surged ahead with a 9-2 run. Niagara fended off the Bearcats by converting its foul shots down the stretch.

“This group is still hungry … and especially being a young group, the experience they’re getting right now in non-conference is exactly what we need,” Scholl said.

Swain finished with a career-high 26 points on Monday, and Murphy chipped in with 14 points and 7 boards.

“I definitely believe that this team is better than its record,” Swain said. ”I feel like we have a problem putting two halves together. The only game we did that was against Buffalo and we came out with a win. So once we are able to put two halves together then this season will [get better].

Binghamton is scheduled to face Syracuse University this Saturday at the Carrier Dome. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.