After losing 67-57 to St. Bonaventure University in its final nonconference matchup, the Binghamton women’s basketball team traveled to Long Island over the weekend to open conference play with a two-game series against America East (AE) rival Stony Brook. Binghamton was looking to snap its two-game skid against the Seawolves, but the Bearcats fell short, losing 61-52 on Saturday and 55-47 on Sunday.
“We’ll keep getting better,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “Playing against the defending [America East] champs in our first opening weekend in our third game showed how we are improving every game. In a typical year we would have played a few more games by this time to help us tighten things up. All in all I’m proud of all the hard work the team has put in so far this year.”
In the first game of the series, the Bearcats (0-4, 0-2 AE) got off to a quick start with a jumper by sophomore guard Denai Bowman, followed by a 3-pointer from senior forward Kaylee Wasco on the next possession. Binghamton led Stony Brook 25-24 at the half, but the Seawolves (4-2, 2-0 AE) quickly took control of the game. In the second half, steady play from senior forward India Pagan and perfect three-for-three shooting from the 3-point line by junior guard Earlette Scott powered Stony Brook to a 61-52 win over the Bearcats.
On Sunday, BU came out strong, as they were looking to bounce back from a tough loss. The Bearcats led 25-15 well into the second quarter, thanks to eight points from both Bowman and Wasco. However, the Seawolves bounced back by converting in the paint to narrow the Bearcats’ lead to just one at the half. After a layup made by junior guard Anastasia Warren gave the Seawolves a 28-27 lead over the Bearcats, the lead didn’t change for the rest of the game and the Seawolves went on to win, giving them a 2-0 record to open conference play and a weekend sweep over the Bearcats.
“We need to work on putting four quarters together as a team,” Shapiro Ord said.
SBU was able to draw several fouls, repeatedly sending some of their best players to the line. The Seawolves took 36 free throws, making 29, while Binghamton converted 11 of 14 attempts.
“We need to do a better job of drawing more fouls,” Shapiro Ord said. “If you drive then you have more of an opportunity to get 3-point plays.”
While Wasco and Bowman had the most points over the two games with 23 apiece, two Bearcats that are new to the program had breakout games. On Saturday, sophomore forward Birna Benonysdottir netted 13 points, the highest total yet for the transfer from Arizona. On Sunday, the efficient play of sophomore forward Destiny Samuel, who scored 11 points and shot 83 percent from the field, was a bright spot for BU. Samuel is a transfer from Temple whose scoring numbers have improved in each game she’s played.
Throughout both games, one competitive matchup this weekend was between Wasco and Pagan. Wasco outscored Pagan 23-22 on the weekend and played gritty defense drawing two charges in the game on Sunday. Both players were able to show their strength in the paint, but Wasco was able to showcase her prowess from deep this weekend shooting 67 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“[Pagan] was good, but she also had to guard Wasco,” Shapiro Ord said. “It was a fun battle to watch. Wasco also drew two charges.”
With the Stony Brook series now behind them, the Bearcats will look ahead to the remainder of their AE schedule, beginning with a two-game series at home against UMBC next weekend. The Bearcats and the Retrievers (1-3, 1-1 AE) tied for fifth in the AE preseason poll, and UMBC split its conference-opening series against Albany.
The teams will face off on Sunday, Dec. 27 and Monday, Dec. 28. Tipoff in the first game is set for 2 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.