For the first time since its Jan. 11 loss to Maine, the Binghamton women’s basketball team took a lead into halftime on Sunday.
But after keeping pace with New Hampshire through the first 20 minutes, the Bearcats (4-18, 1-8 America East) would relinquish their one-point halftime advantage as the Wildcats (13-8, 7-1 AE) outscored BU by 20 points in the second to earn a 72-53 win from Lundholm Gymnasium.
In a first half that was filled with runs, sophomore forward Morgan Murphy and junior forward Sharae Swinson scored consecutive baskets to open the game for Binghamton. New Hampshire, fueled by two 3-pointers from senior guard Kelsey Hogan, responded with 14 of the next 16 points, building a 14-6 lead over Binghamton six minutes into the game.
But a 5-0 spurt by the Bearcats, capped by a steal and layup by senior guard Vaneeshia Paulk, brought the visitors within three points. Two 3-pointers and a layup by New Hampshire extended its lead to 11 before Binghamton, led by Swinson, closed the half on a 19-7 run to take its one-point lead into the locker room. Swinson recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in the period.
“Offensively I think we did a nice job of capitalizing and getting the ball into the high-post area,” Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl said. “And I think our post players did a good job of attacking the basket.”
Murphy started the scoring in the second half after converting an and-one layup to push the Bearcats’ lead to four. From there, things began to slip away from BU. Back-to-back 3-pointers from New Hampshire’s Hogan and junior guard Ariel Gaston followed by a conventional 3-point play from sophomore guard Elizabeth Belanger swung the scoreboard back in favor of the Wildcats.
Binghamton would not regain the lead, and New Hampshire saw its advantage peak at 22 before eventually settling at 19.
“Our transition defense wasn’t working,” Scholl said about her team’s struggles after the halftime break. “They hit a couple of threes and then we came down and settled for outside shots where we had success early going inside. And we kind of went away from that and weren’t getting easy looks at the basket.”
New Hampshire was led by Belanger, who finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Freshman guard Kristen Anderson contributed 14 points, including three 3-pointers.
Scholl praised the play of Murphy, who led all scorers with 19 points on 73 percent shooting from the field.
“Murphy has been great,” Scholl said. “She has been gaining confidence in every game. She has been doing a really good job of scoring the ball.”
Swinson also chipped in with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Now the loser of seven straight games, Binghamton will look to stop the bleeding on Wednesday at Stony Brook.
BU is now tied for last in the conference standings with UMBC at 1-8 AE, while the Seawolves’ 6-3 AE record is good for third.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Pritchard Gymnasium.