A 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half by senior guard Kai Moon put the Binghamton women’s basketball team up 34-26 against Maine, the defending America East (AE) champions. The Black Bears, however, came out hot in the second half and overcame the eight-point deficit, ending the third period up 45-44 with a jumper from junior guard Kelly Fogarty.
“Our defense was not playing team defense, so we had to tighten it up a little bit and make sure we got back to team defense,” said BU head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord.
After trading the lead a few times, freshman guard Denai Bowman and sophomore forward Annie Ramil both hit jumpers in the final two minutes to help propel Binghamton to a 73-63 win over Maine (7-13, 3-3 AE). The Bearcats (13-5, 2-3 AE) scored 29 points in the final period, the highest of the season.
“[Bowman] and [Ramil] shoot every day,” Shapiro Ord said. “They get in the gym extra, and they know that they have to put them down.”
After winning the last two conference championships, Maine was the unanimous favorite to win another title this season. However, defending AE Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Blanca Millan, a senior guard, tore her ACL in November, and the team stumbled in nonconference play.
Throughout the game, Maine freshman guard Anne Simon barreled through the Binghamton defense, and she ended the match with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds — both career-high marks. Shapiro Ord said that a big part of the team’s success was retooling the defense, and the Bearcats were able to limit Simon to three points in the final five minutes of the game.
“We didn’t want them to get wide-open threes,” Shapiro Ord said. “We really had to play offensive defense. We put [Bowman] in there at the end and those shots were big for her, but her defense at the very end was crucial for us.”
Another key to the team’s success was free throws. The Bearcats went 16 of 18 from the line; eight of the free throws were made by junior forward Olivia Ramil, and six out of her eight were made in the last minute. Binghamton is currently ranked first in the AE in free throw percentage (.782).
“We practice free throws every day,” Olivia Ramil said. “It was just a matter of time.”
There were three Bearcats in double figures for the win: Moon, Annie Ramil and Olivia Ramil. Annie Ramil had 12 points while Olivia Ramil had 16. The sisters both contributed a block, while Olivia Ramil had six rebounds and Annie Ramil had four.
Moon led the team with 26 points, which marks the 10th time this season she has made over 20 points in a game. Moon’s 26 points also put her in eighth place in all of Binghamton program history with 1,237 career points, and she remains at the top of the AE leaderboard in scoring.
“[Maine] executes their stuff very well and I knew this was going to be a battle coming in, so for us to get this win today is huge,” Moon said.
Prior to the Maine victory, Binghamton was coming off of a loss against UMass Lowell and a close 65-62 loss against Vermont. Before conference play began, the team’s record was 11-2.
“It just feels good to get the win,” Moon said. “We struggled against teams that I felt we were evenly matched with in the past and it would just come down to the last couple possessions.”
The Bearcats will hope to take their momentum into their game on Wednesday, Jan. 22 against Stony Brook. The Seawolves’ only loss so far this season came to Southeastern Conference member Arkansas.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.