The Binghamton University women’s basketball team saw Tuesday’s exhibition matchup against Mansfield University as a chance to gain some momentum before heading into the regular season.
Led by sophomore guard Vaneeshia Paulk, the Bearcats did that and more, topping the Mountaineers at the Events Center by a score of 81-28. Each of the 14 players on Binghamton’s roster had at least two points in the victory.
Paulk, a 5-foot-4-inch transfer student from East Georgia College, took on a big role in the victory while the Bearcats played it cautious with senior guard Andrea Holmes, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in her left knee last February. Paulk scored a game-best 10 points and played a team-high 24 minutes off the bench. Her up-tempo style of play seemed to add another valuable dimension to Binghamton’s attack.
“I’m always running and I use my speed as my strength,” Paulk said. “I like to get the ball up the court. Transition is the easiest way to score.”
Holmes, meanwhile, logged 13 minutes in her first game back from last year’s injury.
Right from the start, Binghamton came out shooting. The Bearcats burst out to a 28-8 lead in the opening 12 minutes. The team would embark on a 14-6 run to end the half ahead 42-14. Holmes and senior forward Viive Rebane led the way in the first with six points apiece. Senior guard Orla O’Reilly also looked sharp to start the game, connecting on two of her first four shot attempts, including a 3-pointer.
“I felt like we picked up where we left off last year,” said sophomore guard Jasbriell Swain, who posted eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the game. “We knew how it felt without Holmes and we play really well with Holmes. The team meshed really well and coach told us we need to get back into running the ball a lot because we’ve worked a lot on half-court offense. I think we mixed in half-court offense with pushing the ball really well tonight.”
In the second half, it was more of the same from Binghamton. The team started the half on a 20-2 run through the first 10 minutes to extend its lead to 64-16.
“I was very pleased, especially how we started the game and how we started the second half,” Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl said. “Those were kind of two big focuses for us, especially on the defensive side of things and rebounding.”
Contributions from the team’s newcomers and those who hadn’t seen much action highlighted Tuesday night’s game for the Bearcats.
Freshman Sherae Swinson scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds while sophomore forward Julia Barac tallied six points and three rebounds in their debuts, this being Barac’s first eligible season in accordance with NCAA rules regarding transfers.
“I was actually really excited when I found out that every single person on our roster scored at least two points tonight,” Swain said. “It’s fun knowing that the first five are not going to be out there the whole 40 minutes and you have other people that can come in, and when they step in the intensity level never drops.”
Binghamton netted 32 field goals and shot 50 percent from the field while limiting Mansfield to just 11 field goals and a 19.6 shooting percentage. The Bearcats also committed just eight turnovers in comparison to Mansfield’s 17.
A lot of that, Scholl said, could be attributed to the team’s depth this season.
“I feel like we could go 10 or 11 deep at times,” she said. “It’s just going to be a matter of who’s practicing well; we always talk about ‘you have to practice well to get on the floor.’ That’s where it’s going to come into play as far as who’s getting out there. But I thought overall as a group, everybody stepped in, understood what their role was and really capitalized on their opportunities.”
Binghamton is set to tip off the regular season against Mount St. Mary’s University at 7 p.m. tonight at the Events Center.