The first game of Binghamton women’s basketball team’s 2018-19 season started off just as any game last year might have, with junior guard Kai Moon shooting two free throws. However, this team could not have looked more different on the path to its first victory of the season against the University of Charleston Golden Eagles, 69-62.
This is a brand new Bearcats team led by first-year head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord, who became the first head coach to win her first game with the team since Laurie Kelly in 1998, leading BU (1-0) to its first opening-game win since 2003. The team sported a blend of familiar and new faces to come together and secure the victory.
“The team that came in here, Charleston, did a terrific job,” Shapiro Ord said. “They’re gonna be a very, very good team this year and they’re gonna win a lot of basketball games … I knew they were gonna come to battle, but I’m really proud of our girls. We got over the hump and got this first ‘W.’”
One of the highlights of the game for the Bearcats was the performance of their bench, which put up 30 points combined. Senior forward Rebecca Carmody scored a team-leading 16 points with four assists and two steals as the sixth man.
“I think the biggest thing is that everyone touches the ball,” Carmody said. “Everyone has an opportunity to score. Everyone on the team can score, so just allowing and giving confidence to each player on the court is very important.”
Nine different players scored in the contest, including an especially strong performance from junior guard Carly Boland, who scored nine points with five assists, four blocks and two steals.
“[The system] gives everyone an opportunity to do what they’re best at and keeps the offense moving and keeps people flowing,” Boland said. “It keeps the defense on their toes.”
BU’s impressive foul shooting played a large part in its victory over Charleston. Binghamton shot an impressive 77.3 percent from the charity stripe, which has been a large point of emphasis for the Bearcats in practice.
“We shoot so many every day,” Carmody said. “If we miss, we run. So we don’t want to run, so we make ‘em.”
BU’s sharpshooting did not end there. Despite not making a majority of its attempts from beyond the arc, only two for nine in the contest, BU still managed to shoot 47.2 percent from the field. A lot of that strong percentage came from the team’s dominance in the paint. The Bearcats outscored UC 46-28 in the paint and out-rebounded the Golden Eagles, 39-28.
“We always want to go inside-out to get high-percentage shots,” Shapiro Ord said. “So, that was a big thing, but we don’t want to force the issue. Sometimes, we’re thinking we gotta go inside even if they’re not open.”
Binghamton did not shoot well from three and it did not start the game defending the three-point line well, either. BU allowed Charleston to score six threes in the first half of the game before stiffening up and allowing only one three-pointer in the second half.
“The whole game, we didn’t really protect the three-point line like we should’ve,” Boland said. “At halftime, we talked about closing out with our hands high.”
The other big problem Binghamton faced this game was turnovers, allowing 21 turnovers over the course of the match. The turnovers didn’t cost the Bearcats too much, however, as Charleston matched Binghamton’s turnover total with 21.
“We just want more opportunities, and the better we do taking care of the basketball, the more shots we get up and that’s really what you want,” Shapiro Ord said. “When you get more shots up, then you’re gonna get this really high scoring game.”
Despite the mistakes, Shapiro Ord seemed proud of her new group and the way it performed against Charleston.
“It felt extra special tonight,” she said. “It really did, because this group has been working so hard and they’re buying in and they’re believing in the system, and it’s just such a great group, so I’m so happy for them for our first win.”
The Bearcats’ schedule continues with two games this upcoming weekend, the first of which will take place Friday, Nov. 9 against Cornell. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.