After establishing an early lead, Vermont maintained at least a five-point cushion throughout the remainder of its 65-57 win over the Binghamton women’s basketball team on Sunday at the Events Center.
With the loss, the Bearcats (4-16, 1-6 America East) have dropped five consecutive games.
Vermont (6-14, 3-4 AE), ranking third in the conference with a plus-1.8 rebounding margin to Binghamton’s eighth-place minus-6.9, flaunted its strength throughout the game. The Catamounts swept up 44 rebounds (16 offensive) to Binghamton’s 30. The Catamounts dominated the glass throughout the entire game, starting with a plus-12 advantage in the first half, alone.
“I thought Vermont did a nice job at just crashing the boards and being in the right position as far as angles and things like that go,” BU head coach Nicole Scholl said. “I think we got outworked in the first half as far as that goes. We talk about it all the time: You either box it out or you’ve got to go get the rebound, and I don’t think we were very good off our feet that way.”
In addition to rebound troubles, BU had a difficult time offensively. The team ranks last in the conference in field goal percentage (33.5 percent), and approached that mark in Sunday’s loss (34 percent). Shooting 25.9 percent from the field in the first half, the Bearcats needed to make a change in the second.
“They were scoring against and having success against our man and [adopting] the zone kind of just gave a different look and turned things around a little bit,” Scholl said. “I thought at times it did its job, and other times, I just thought that we weren’t playing their personnel very well. [Freshman guard Kristina White] got loose a couple of times and hit a couple of big threes in the second half that kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit.”
White knocked down 5-of-7 treys en route to her game-high 19 points, while Binghamton relied on the free throw line for the bulk of its offensive efforts. Sophomore forward Morgan Murphy and senior guard Vaneeshia Paulk tallied team-leading 14 and 13 points, respectively, with more than half of their totals coming off free throws. Morgan shot 8 of 10 from the foul line while Paulk shot 7 of 8.
“That definitely was a focus, to get to the free throw line. And we were making them,” Paulk said. “Morgan made a few, so we knew we could give the ball to Morgan and get to the free throw line.”
Collectively, the Bearcats got to the free throw line 33 times while the Catamounts, who are second in the AE in free throw percentage, managed to get there just four times. That advantage allowed the Bearcats to get closer in the second.
“I think in the second half we were just more aggressive,” Murphy said. “Especially at the start of the second half, we got some easy points just getting to the free throw line. I got there a few times and it quickly cut their lead down.”
“I thought in the second half, that we got to the free throw line, that was the bigger piece,” Scholl said. “If you’re not making the shots, at least get yourself to the foul line. Second half, we did a much better job with that.”
It wasn’t enough, however, and the Bearcats never led.
In BU’s all-time series against Vermont, the Catamounts own the advantage, 17-8. They have also won each of the past three games, sweeping the Bearcats in their two match-ups last season.
Since facing off against Rider on Dec. 14, the Bearcats wrapped up their non-conference slate with a loss against Siena and a pair of wins against UMass and La Salle at Dartmouth’s Blue Sky Women’s Basketball Classic on Dec. 29 and 30. Kicking off their conference games with a loss against UMBC on Jan. 4, the Bearcats surged for a 65-64 win against UMass Lowell on Jan. 7 before falling to four successive opponents in Maine, Stony Brook, Albany and Hartford.
Next up for Binghamton, the team is scheduled to host UMass Lowell (2-16, 1-6 AE) on Thursday. BU will hope to garner a second win against the AE’s newest team, which enters the contest on a five-game skid.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Events Center.