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UNH takes away post, downs women’s basketball

The Binghamton women’s basketball team’s skid has hit double digits, the latest and 10th consecutive defeat coming to New Hampshire on Wednesday night. The 64-46 loss kept the Bearcats (4-21, 1-11 America East) in a last-place tie with UMBC.

“Obviously frustrating,” BU head coach Nicole Scholl said when talking about her team’s performance. “[New Hampshire is] a very good team. There is a reason why they are up in second place, but there were moments in time where I thought that we did a nice job. I thought we really competed with them.”

New Hampshire (15-9, 9-2 AE), alternating between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man defense, focused on denying entry passes into the post, where BU forwards Morgan Murphy and Sherae Swinson initiated most of the Bearcats’ offense. The Wildcats were very effective, holding Murphy and Swinson to a combined 35 percent clip from the field.

“They focused on the post players a lot this game, I feel like,” Swinson said. “Coach told us to work it around the perimeter and take open shots if we needed to.”

Similar to their performance on Sunday, the Bearcats struck first and sputtered offensively for the rest of the half. Swinson hit her first basket, but New Hampshire quickly retaliated with a layup from junior forward Kaylee Kirkpatrick. Both teams would go scoreless for four minutes until another basket by Kirkpatrick granted New Hampshire its first lead of the game.

That lead would never be relinquished. Binghamton scored just 15 points throughout the first half, struggling constantly against the Wildcats’ zone. The Bearcats could not get the ball inside, and ended most of their possessions with a forced jumper late in the shot clock. The Bearcats headed into the locker room trailing, 25-15.

“They did a pretty good job of getting up and around our post players,” Scholl said. “It limited some of our touches. Our post players probably could have worked a little harder to work for position in there. I thought they allowed us to not get that good position just by out-working us.”

Binghamton opened up the second half on a nice run, when two Swinson layups and a Murphy jump shot cut the lead to four. This was the closest BU would come for the remainder of the game. The Bearcats were able to improve their offensive output in the half, largely because of senior guard Stephanie Jensen’s efforts from the field, but were plagued by turnovers and struggled on defense.

BU failed to get stops, alternating scores with New Hampshire and failing to cut into the deficit. The Wildcats pulled away at the end for the 18-point victory.

“You know in the end we just had too many turnovers,” Scholl said. “There was a point there where we were trading baskets with them, and that was a point where we really needed to get stops and score on the other end.”

At least Binghamton could take a positive away from senior guard Stephanie Jensen’s performance. She finished with 15 points — all via the 3-pointer — to go with seven rebounds.

Three players came away with double-digit scoring outputs for the Wildcats. Junior guard Ariel Gaston finished with a game-high 19 points, Kilpatrick chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds and sophomore guard Elizabeth Belanger added 16.

The Bearcats are set to return to the road next Wednesday to take on conference-leader Albany, which has won 13 straight games. On top of holding a perfect AE record, the Great Danes (22-3, 12-0 AE) are 11-1 at home.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena in Albany.