The Binghamton University women’s basketball team used contributions from a junior, sophomore and freshman to defeat the visiting Mansfield University Mountaineers Tuesday night at the Events Center. The Bearcats were without lone senior Jackie Ward, but managed to come out on top 66-49 in the exhibition game.
Ward, normally a starter, underwent surgery on her left ankle in October and is expected to be out for at least three weeks.
Without her, the active Bearcats realized the importance of a quick start and came out of the gates firing, as they went on a 15-5 run in the first 5:30 of the game.
Junior guard Andrea Holmes was largely to thank for the early Binghamton run, scoring not only the team’s first bucket but also 10 of its first 15 points. Her hot hand continued as she accounted for 17 of the team’s first 28, shooting 7-for-12 from the field and 5-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half.
When she wasn’t scoring, Holmes continuously pushed the tempo on offense, which she said is what her team does best.
‘I’m not sure [Mansfield] wasn’t prepared for that, but we [just want] to play our game and not allow other teams to come in and make us play their game,’ she said. ‘Our game is a fast-paced game and I think we were very successful in that.’
Head coach Nicole Scholl thought that aspect of Binghamton’s game was to blame for the high number of team turnovers, as the Bearcats accumulated 19 over the course of the game.
‘We talked about that at halftime,’ she said. ‘That’s a concern but not a concern. Early on I feel like those turnovers are going to be a little higher, especially if we are trying to run.’
Another area of struggle for the team was its free-throw shooting, as it shot just 3-for-10 from the line. Holmes went 1-for-4 from the charity stripe, something she knows needs fixing.
‘I think it’s just a concentration level and focus level thing,’ she said. ‘Free throws are the easiest points you can get in the basketball game, so I think it’s just a matter of more concentration and focus to put the ball in the basket.’
The Bearcats made up for their turnovers and disappointing foul shooting as they were given solid performances from freshman Jasbriell Swain and sophomore Kara Elofson.
Both were impressive on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds apiece. Elofson also added 19 points, second-best to Holmes’ game-high 24.
Coach Scholl couldn’t say enough about the team’s key contributors Tuesday night.
‘I thought Jas Swain came in as a freshman and did a fantastic job with her rebounding and her hustle play, which gave us a big lift. Kara Elofson worked hard over the summer and it really has paid off for her,’ she said.
She also noted that Holmes’ ability to take control of the game from the opening tip was a big factor in the outcome.
The Bearcat lead grew to 16 with five minutes to go in the first half, but Mansfield clawed back to make it a 10-point game at 35-25 before the intermission.
It seemed as if Binghamton felt that the margin was too close for comfort, as the team came out of the locker room firing to go with a 12-0 run. By the time the Mountaineers scored their first points more than five minutes into the second half, Binghamton had increased its lead to 22.
It was smooth sailing from there on out as the Bearcats coasted to the final buzzer and a 66-49 win.
Overall, Scholl was pleased with her team’s performance.
‘I thought tonight we really looked like a veteran team from the beginning,’ she said, specifically referencing her team’s ability to come out strong to begin both halves.
One aspect of the game that surprised her was the way in which Mansfield chose to defend her team.
‘Their zone kind of slowed us down a little bit,’ she said. ‘I’ll be honest, I wasn’t as prepared for the zone. I thought Mansfield was going to play primarily man, so I thought our players did a good job adjusting.’
Though it came in an exhibition game and against a Division II team, Elofson saw the win as a confidence booster for Binghamton.
‘It’s what we needed,’ she said after the game. ‘We needed that first W, and now we’ll build off this one and take it one game at a time.’
Binghamton’s next game is set for tonight as the team travels west to open their regular season with the St. Bonaventure University Bonnies.
Coach Scholl stressed the necessity for her team to learn from Tuesday’s game in order to prepare for today’s.
‘We can’t afford to make a lot of mental errors or mental mistakes out on the floor because they’re going to capitalize on that,’ she said.
Holmes added that Tuesday’s win was sure to give the Bearcats confidence as they prepare for the Bonnies.
‘I don’t think [we’ll] be as nervous,’ she said. ‘We’ll just try to do what we do best as a team and not let the other team determine the outcome.’
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m tonight at St. Bonaventure.