The Bearcats’ home crowd cheered loudly on Wednesday as sophomore guard Annie Ramil dribbled out the final seconds on the game clock. When the clock finally hit zero and the Binghamton women’s basketball team secured a 66-58 lead over UMBC, the fans were celebrating more than just a regular season win. Wednesday’s victory marked the team’s 20th of the season, tying the program’s best win total in its 19-year Division I history.
It also meant that BU (20-8, 9-6 America East) clinched a home game in the first round of next week’s AE Tournament.
“I’m just ecstatic for this group of young ladies,” said BU head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “They worked so hard all season.”
Though the score was in Binghamton’s favor for most of the game, UMBC (10-16, 6-9 AE) came out of halftime with great intensity after a lackluster second quarter. The Retrievers rebounded from shooting 18.2 percent on field goals in the second period by shooting at a 41.2 percent success rate in the third. BU senior guard Kai Moon summed up the change with two words: “Te’yJah Oliver.”
“Their best player [senior guard Oliver], who is a very good scorer, was lighting it up,” Shapiro Ord said. “We were also giving them too many second-chance opportunities. That was hard. You can’t give a team second-chance opportunities.”
UMBC scored 12 points off Binghamton turnovers and eight from second-chance opportunities.
Oliver scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half, joined in double digits by junior forward Janee’a Summers for UMBC. However, BU managed to hold Oliver scoreless in the game’s final few minutes thanks to lockdown defense by senior forward Karlee Krchnavi.
“Once [Oliver] started getting comfortable with the ball, she was making shots,” Krchnavi said. “I think we just got her out of her groove of things and that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to disrupt her.”
Krchnavi’s dominant defense was complemented by her 13 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
The Bearcat victory was also fueled by Moon’s 31 points, 11 of which came from her 12 free-throw attempts. With four successful 3-pointers, Moon became the fifth player in Bearcat history to make 200 career shots from beyond the arc.
“It’s so funny because I remember I came in as a freshman and I was a garbage 3-point shooter,” Moon said. “I just think that’s a testament to the work I put in.”
BU also received double-digit scoring from junior forward Olivia Ramil, who scored 11 points to go with eight rebounds. Other notable contributions included Annie Ramil grabbing six rebounds and freshman guard Denai Bowman following up her career-best game on Saturday with seven points and four rebounds.
Moon and Krchnavi both said they were excited about the team’s accomplishments this year, and Moon called the 20-win milestone “huge,” especially after last year’s 12-win campaign.
“I think that’s a product of the work that we all put in from first man to 14,” Moon said. “I think this is a great opportunity for us to make a push into the playoffs and we’re all very excited about it.”
Though Shapiro Ord stressed that her team is focused on the regular season finale on Saturday, she didn’t deny the significance of clinching a playoff home game.
“It means something to us,” Shapiro Ord said. “It means something to this team. It means something to this community and the girls want to preform really well for them so it’s awesome that we’re able to protect our home court and get this win tonight.”
Prior to the postseason, Binghamton will play its regular season finale at home against New Hampshire on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.