After the postponement of a weekend series against Vermont due to COVID-19 protocols, the Binghamton women’s basketball team battled to the wire against the New Hampshire Wildcats in a pair of matchups on Sunday and Monday. Edged out of a win with 57-52 on Sunday, the Bearcats took the court the following afternoon in another close affair.
Late in the second half of Monday’s game, senior forward Kaylee Wasco stepped up for BU. As part of a career-high 20 points scored in the game, Wasco was the only Bearcat to score a field goal in the fourth quarter. With Binghamton trailing by one with just a minute and a half remaining, she notched a key block and scored the go-ahead jumper shortly after an ensuing timeout. UNH retook the lead shortly thereafter, but clutch free throw shooting from sophomore guard Denai Bowman put Binghamton ahead in the game’s final seconds, securing a 58-56 win for BU.
“I thought New Hampshire did really good defensively, but because of how the flow of the game was, we were getting the people that were open and they were knocking down those shots,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “With Wasco, we were trying to get inside which was so important, and they were not respecting [sophomore guard Cassidy Roberts] early on and she made them respect her. They did a good job on Denai but everyone else stepped up.”
The game was tight throughout, as both teams were almost level after every quarter. In the first half, Roberts scored eight points to lead the Binghamton offense, but the Wildcats quickly responded and kept the game tight. Binghamton entered the fourth quarter with a 47-46 lead, and Binghamton was able to escape with a two-point margin of victory after a low-scoring final frame.
In addition to Wasco’s defensive performance, sophomore guard Clare Traeger recorded 10 rebounds in her fourth double-digit performance of the season. Also scoring 10 points in the game, she secured the first double-double of her career.
“I love [Traeger’s] energy, she always has it,” Shapiro Ord said. “She wants to do so much that sometimes I have to have her breathe a little bit on the offensive end. She is going to be so dynamic when she can put them together, but I just love her energy. That is what this team needs and loves having.”
On Sunday, a seven-point run by the Wildcats to open the game left Binghamton trailing throughout the first three quarters, but in the final seconds of the third quarter, a steal from Bowman led to a last second jumper by Roberts that tied the game at 41. That play capped off 20 points of offense for BU in the third period. The team took their first lead early in the fourth quarter, and later on a layup from Wasco tied the game at 52 with two minutes remaining. However, New Hampshire scored the final five points of the game to earn a 57-52 victory.
Turnovers were a major problem for the Bearcats in the game, as they were unable to keep the Wildcat offense from capitalizing on their mistakes. BU turned over the ball 24 times, and UNH recorded 26 points off of turnovers. Binghamton was eventually sunk by losing the ball, turning it over on several key possessions late in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t put ourselves in a good position to win,” Shapiro Ord said. “When you turn the ball over as much as we did and they score 26 points off of those turnovers, it’s going to be a rough night. As tough of a game as we had, we still had a chance to win at the end. I was proud of the fight we showed in coming back from 14 points down. [Bowman] gave us so much on both ends of the court. She played tremendous today and did a lot of the little things we needed from her.”
Although only able to pick up eight points Monday afternoon, Bowman led the Bearcats in Sunday’s loss with 14 points, also recording six rebounds, five steals and six assists.
Next up, the Bearcats will look to keep their momentum in a weekend series against UMass Lowell on Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday Jan. 17. Tip-off in the first game is scheduled for noon on Saturday at the Costello Athletic Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.