Driving to the rim off a steal from junior guard Karlee Krchnavi, classmate guard Kai Moon pushed up the court with determination, fighting her way to the rim for a layup through contact, earning an and-one opportunity which she converted. The basket put the fifth-seeded Binghamton women’s basketball team up seven points on fourth-seeded Albany with just under seven minutes to play. Ironically, this momentum-swinging moment put the Bearcats in a position eerily similar to last season’s 12-point blown lead in a quarterfinal matchup against Hartford. Key differences from last season, such as a new coaching staff, a largely new rotation and different faces of the team in Moon and senior forward Rebecca Carmody, could not change an outcome that was far too familiar to BU’s veterans. The Bearcats scored only two points for the remainder of the game, as Albany outscored Binghamton by 12 points in crunch time to earn a 61-56 victory and advance to the America East (AE) semifinals. The defeat marks the program’s 20th consecutive loss to the Great Danes (13-17, 10-7 AE) and puts a bitter end to what was ultimately an up-and-down rebuilding year for the Bearcats (12-18, 7-10 AE).
“We were just really inconsistent [this season], and I think it happens,” said BU head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “But I’m excited to keep growing with this group and just get after it. There’s no time to wait. The way this [loss] happened, I think they’re gonna be really hungry.”
Binghamton played a strong and complete game on both ends of the court in the first three quarters. Whether by leveraging Albany’s press defense to their advantage or passing and cutting swiftly in the halfcourt, the Bearcats were able to consistently manufacture open looks and convert on jumpers and shots at the rim. BU was paced by a strong two-way showing from Carmody in her final game as a Bearcat, pouring in 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Carmody’s ability to facilitate for both herself and others helped keep the Bearcats’ offense humming for a majority of the game.
“I can’t say enough about [Carmody], of what she’s done for this program,” Shapiro Ord said. “In my short time with her, I can’t even tell you how proud I am that I had the opportunity to coach her.”
The Bearcats’ collapse was highlighted by the inability to find the open shots they found earlier in the game. After previously getting to the rim with relative ease, Binghamton had offensive possessions sputter frequently due to stagnation and hesitancy on the perimeter, allowing the Great Danes to dig in and jump passing lanes. Binghamton took three layups after Moon’s three-point play, failing to cash in on each opportunity.
“We were just not attacking the rim like we were [earlier] and just didn’t get the looks we wanted in the end,” Shapiro Ord said. “Albany didn’t give up. We needed to score more buckets, obviously. We said we wanted to push tempo, and they did a good job of slowing us down a bit.”
The Bearcats rebounded with a sense of urgency tonight, out-rebounding the Great Danes, 40-33, but BU’s late scoring drought ultimately enabled Albany to complete the comeback. Moon was the Bearcats’ second-leading scorer, totaling 17 points on an inefficient 4-for-16 shooting performance. Sophomore forward Olivia Ramil fouled out in 28 minutes of action, but put up 12 points and 6 rebounds on 60 percent shooting from the field.
This Bearcats season was defined by the team’s variant performance throughout the year, suffering three separate losing streaks of three or more games. With Carmody now graduating, Binghamton again has big shoes to fill on its roster. Completing her first season coaching Binghamton, Shapiro Ord now enters her first full offseason at the helm and looks to form a squad that will play more steadily next season.
“It’s time to get back to work,” Shapiro Ord said. “It’s the offseason, and they’ve never been through an offseason with me yet. I’m really excited. I’m already thinking about what we’re going to do to get going for next year … You guys are [going to] see a team come back next year, and this will not be the case.”