St. Bonaventure downs women’s basketball with second-half surge

The Binghamton women’s basketball team dropped a tightly contested 63-54 matchup against St. Bonaventure on Saturday at the Events Center.

“Obviously tough game for us,” BU coach Nicole Scholl said. “After playing such a good half I figured St. Bonaventure would make a run. I was hoping we would do a little bit better job of stopping it. Overall I think our kids are continuing to improve and we still have a long way to go.”

The Bearcats (1-7) came out looking sharp, playing an excellent first half. Binghamton took control of the momentum, thanks in large part to the play of junior forward Sherae Swinson and senior guard Vaneeshia Paulk.

Binghamton worked all half to get the ball down low to Swinson on the block. Swinson, who faced constant double teams, would either attack the basket or find her teammates for open jump shots or cuts to the rim. This created room for Paulk to attack the basket. Swinson finished with 12 first half points, while Paulk finished with 5.

BU led virtually the entire half. A  3-pointer by senior guard Stephanie Jensen and three free throws by sophomore guard Kim Albrecht gave the Bearcats a 19-10 lead with eight minutes to go in the period. However, a 15-10 run by St. Bonaventure (8-3) cut BU’s lead to four.

Any momentum that St. Bonaventure had going was crushed when a Paulk layup extended the lead to 31-25 and then a difficult turnaround 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded by BU’s Kandace Newry gave the Bearcats a 34-25 advantage heading into the locker room.

“I saw as soon as it released her hands it was going to be good,” Scholl said about Newry’s shot. “In our shoot-around we practice half court shots. It was just one of those things.”

St. Bonaventure got right back into the game in the second half. Three Hannah Little layups and a Katie Healy baby jumper shrank the Bearcats lead to three.

Binghamton would respond with a Swinson lay-up to push the lead back to five, 45-40. However, back-to-back 3-pointers by St. Bonaventure fifth-year senior Chelsea Bowker gave the Bonnies a 46-45 lead with five minutes left to play. It was their first lead since the opening seconds of the game and one that they would not relinquish. Bowker would hit two more 3s, and Little drained four free throws to close the game out, 63-54.

“I thought we were really tentative in the second half,” Scholl said. “They started making their run and our kids kind of got a little frustrated and almost a little bit of a panic mode I think. It took them a little while to settle down from that. That’s a learning experience for us where we need to maintain that composure and start getting the ball inside, getting some easy looks.”

Paulk finished with a team high 15 points while Swinson finished with 14. St. Bonaventure was led by Little, who contributed 20 points and eight rebounds. Bowker chipped in 19 while knocking down five 3-pointers.

Binghamton will return to action on Dec. 11 against Princeton. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m at the Events Center.