On the final cusp of the America East (AE) regular season, the Binghamton women’s basketball team faced off against a winless Hartford team and took the opportunity to pounce. Thanks to a 22-6 run in the second quarter, the Bearcats blew open what was an early one-point deficit in Saturday’s matchup. Playing with a big lead from that point on, including being up by 21 points with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, the Bearcats (19-8, 3-11 AE) cruised to a victory against the still-winless Hawks (0-28, 0-15 AE).
A quick burst of points with under two-and-a-half minutes to go, stemming mostly from five successful free throws and two layups, allowed Hartford to chip BU’s lead down to eight. However, the Bearcats successfully stopped the bleeding and secured a 78-65 victory.
BU has now won three straight games, and its 19 wins ties the program’s second-highest win total during its 19 years in Division I.
“[We’ve] got to clean up some things, but I really like the energy and the effort from the girls,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord.
Shapiro Ord seemed proud of her players and liked the aggressiveness they showed during the second-quarter offensive outburst. The team’s mindset was to attack Hartford by pushing them downhill. The aggressive strategy was shown by the defense in the second quarter, as BU complemented its scoring parade by shutting down the opposing offense for much of the period. However, this aggressiveness seemed to escape Binghamton in the fourth quarter as Hartford began clawing back.
“I was getting mad because we weren’t executing,” Shapiro Ord said. “We weren’t taking care of the ball and defensively we were giving them some really good second-chance opportunities.”
Senior guard Kai Moon echoed her coach and said that ball security was lacking for the team.
“The game was a little bit closer than we would have liked it to be,” Moon said. “There were a lot of 50-50 balls that we didn’t get to, and we wanted to stress that in the timeouts. So coming in we knew that we just had to be a lot more aggressive and take care of the ball. We knew our shots were going to come and we just had to be patient.”
Moon led BU with 18 points, making 6-of-15 from the floor and four 3-pointers.
Though Hartford may be on its way to a winless season, Shapiro Ord indicated that its record may not accurately represent the state of the program under a first-year coach.
“[Hartford head coach] Morgan Valley has been doing a tremendous job keeping these kids up,” Shapiro Ord said. “It’s rough and they play hard and they played hard the entire game. It’s going to be scary here in a few years with [Valley], with the way she’s coaching the girls.”
As Hartford failed to roll over, Binghamton was saved by getting key contributions from all over the roster, with the team scoring 30 points from its bench players. Freshman guard Denai Bowman came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points. She nailed all four of her field goal attempts and netted six of her nine shots from the free-throw line. She also contributed seven rebounds and three steals.
“That’s what [Bowman]’s been doing all year,” Moon said. “She comes off the bench and gives us a huge lift.”
Senior guard Karlee Krchnavi echoed this sentiment.
“[Bowman] has always been a spark off the bench,” Krchnavi said. “It’s her role and she knows what to do and does a really good job at stepping up. It doesn’t surprise me that [Bowman] can make such a big contribution like that.”
The Bearcats were also lifted thanks to 11 points from junior forward Olivia Ramil, seven points and seven boards from Krchnavi and seven points, four steals and six rebounds by sophomore forward Annie Ramil.
“I’m really proud of my kids,” Shapiro Ord said. “I gave a lot of minutes to a lot of different people. Just trying to continue to work on our depth and our youth getting an opportunity.”
Binghamton must now focus on Wednesday’s home game against UMBC. With a win, the Bearcats will clinch a top-four seed and a first-round home game in the playoffs. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.