With freshman forward Liz Wood leading the way with a game-high 22 points, Maine defeated the Binghamton women’s basketball team 74-68 Saturday afternoon at the Events Center. Binghamton (4-22, 3-10 America East) has now lost its last five games.
Wood and the Black Bears (3-22, 2-10 AE) started hot, with Wood scoring 17 points and the team shooting 51.7 percent from the field in the opening half. But despite shooting 40.6 percent in the first 20 minutes, the Bearcats trailed just 38-33 at the break.
The Binghamton defense would dig in and hold Maine to 32.1 percent shooting in the second half, but Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl said the Black Bears’ early hot streak played a key role in the loss.
“If I had to pinpoint a couple of different things, I would say we just let them get on a roll,” she said.
In the second half, the Bearcats made a concerted effort to defend the interior by double-teaming the post. Binghamton was unable to take advantage of the Black Bears’ stagnant offense, however, due in part to its failure to capitalize at the free throw line. BU missed eight consecutive foul shots until freshman forward Morgan Murphy connected on a pair with 5:48 left.
“In the second half for us, it really came down to free throws,” Scholl said. “In crucial games like this, free throws can make the difference for you.”
Still, after Murphy converted those two foul shots, Binghamton was within striking distance, trailing 60-55. Maine would extend its lead to 65-57 over the next two minutes, but Binghamton junior forward Jasbriell Swain and senior forward Simone Thomas used layups to cut the deficit back to four at the 1:42 mark.
Then the Black Bears, who shot just 19-for-31 from the charity stripe, hit 5-of-6 foul shots over the next minute to all but ice the game with a 70-61 lead.
Swain finished the contest with 15 points and 14 rebounds for the 11th double-double of her career while senior forward Kara Elofson added 10 points and six rebounds.
As a team, the Bearcats exceeded their scoring average of 61.6 points. They also surpassed their field goal percentage average of 36 percent with a 44 percent mark from the field.
Although disappointed by her team’s performance, Scholl said she thinks her players will continue to improve as the season progresses.
“Our players can see where the focus has to be and how we need to continue to get better,” she said. “When I look at the [Stony Brook] game, even though we lost that game, the improvement that we made from when we played them up there to here was very promising. I thought today we took a step back. I thought Maine was far more ready to play than we were, but fortunately for us [we’ll] have a few days off, which I think will be well-needed for the rest of the season.”
BU is scheduled to play New Hampshire on Saturday. The last meeting between the two teams took place on Jan. 26, when the Wildcats (9-15, 4-8 AE) defeated the Bearcats 60-52 at the Events Center.
Opening tip is set for 1 p.m. at Lundholm Gymnasium.