Reigning America East champion Albany proved too much for the Binghamton women’s basketball team again on Saturday as the first-place Great Danes cruised to a 69-41 win at SEFCU Arena.
Albany (18-3, 9-0 AE), which also beat the Bearcats (4-18, 3-6 AE) on Jan. 5, used 48 percent shooting from the field to extend its win streak to 10 and remain undefeated in conference play.
The Bearcats, meanwhile, missed another opportunity to piece together back-to-back wins for the first time all season after topping UMBC on the road three days earlier.
Binghamton struggled to cool off Albany senior Ebone Henry, who opened up the scoring for the Great Danes and never slowed down, netting a game-high 22 points.
“She’s a good player and right now she’s playing very well,” Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl said of Henry. “I think she stepped up her level of play overall in conference, so it was just a good day for her. I thought she was very aggressive from the start.”
Henry registered six of the game’s first eight points to guide the Great Danes to a 12-point lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
A three-pointer from Binghamton junior guard Stephanie Jensen shrunk Albany’s lead back down to single digits with seven minutes left in the half, but Albany senior forward Keyana Williams answered with back-to-back baskets to put the Great Danes’ ahead by 13 with five minutes on the clock.
The Great Danes entered the locker room up 33-16 and quickly got back to work in the second, hitting three straight three-pointers to extend their lead to 23 points.
Facing its biggest deficit of the game, Binghamton tried to overcome a 48-23 gap. A jump shot and three-pointer from senior guard Mallory Lawes pulled the Bearcats to within 15 with just under 12 minutes left to play. But that’s the closest Binghamton would get, as Albany quickly recovered and put away the Bearcats for the second time this season.
“I was happy with our second half production,” Scholl said. ”I thought we came out defensively much more aggressive, and we were hitting shots in the second half, which helped us too. I just think early in that first half we kind of were sitting back and watching them do what they do and not reacting or responding to it the way that we should’ve.”
The Bearcats as a team struggled on offense, shooting just 30.6 percent from the field for the game, while managing only two baskets from behind the arc. They also committed 16 turnovers to Albany’s 14.
Sophomore forward Sherae Swinson led Binghamton with 12 points, reaching double-digits in scoring for the fifth time in Binghamton’s last six games. Swinson is now leading the Bearcats with an average of 11 points per game.
Senior forward Kara Elofson tied Albany’s Williams with a game-high eight boards, and Lawes contributed with 10 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of play, the most time she’s seen since returning from an ankle injury, according to Scholl.
“It was nice to have Mallory back,” Scholl said. “I thought she looked good coming in. She looked fresh, and besides scoring on offense, I thought she helped us on the defensive end as well.”
Binghamton will look to bounce back against Hartford on Wednesday. BU topped the Hawks (14-8, 5-4 AE) 46-44 at the Events Center when the teams first met this season on Jan 2. But, according to Scholl, the Bearcats will see a much improved Hartford team this time around. The Hawks currently sit in a third-place tie with Vermont.
“They’re going to be hungry for a win, especially after we knocked them off in the quarterfinal round last year and we beat them early on in the season at home,” Scholl said. “We’re going to have to be focused … and ready to go from the start. I really think the first few minutes of the first half are really going to dictate how we’re going to play, so if we can come out strong and aggressive and knock down a few shots in the beginning, I think we’ll be OK.”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Chase Family Arena.