With less than four minutes left in regulation, the Binghamton women’s basketball team held on to a two-point lead in a Thursday night bout against Army. In the ensuing moments, senior guard Denai Bowman dropped in 10 points while the Bearcats went on a 16-3 run to close out a 76-61 win.
“This win means everything to us,” said senior guard Clare Traeger. “We wanted to head into Syracuse 2-0. We really knew that we had to pull together this game. It was gonna be a team win.”
Trading baskets early, BU (2-0) found control over the Black Knights (1-2) in the first period, forcing six turnovers and converting on a pair of three point attempts. The early triples by redshirt freshman guard Ella Wanzer and sophomore forward Genevieve Coleman on top of two steals from Bowman allowed the Bearcats to jump out to a 14-5 lead just five minutes into the action. However, Army persisted with six points in the paint and three free throws, cutting the Binghamton lead to 16-14 at the end of the period.
“When we were attacking and [redshirt freshman guard Jadyn Weltz] was finding people, everybody was finding people, our shooters were shot ready,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “That’s a big thing, they just have confidence to shoot, all the ones that shot it have their license, so they know they can shoot.”
Despite Army putting the pressure on Binghamton in the first period, the home team remained in control after adding two more three-pointers early in the second frame. However, the Black Knights remained competitive, not allowing the Bearcats to jump out to a significant lead. The visitors cut the deficit to as little as one point in the quarter, but BU’s shooting kept it at the helm, entering halftime leading 34-31. Binghamton knocked down five three-pointers at a 71.4 percent clip in the first half and forced 10 Army turnovers.
“We said coming out of halftime [Army was] not gonna back down,” Shapiro Ord said.
The second half began with a quick 8-0 run by the Black Knights who took their first lead of the game at 39-34. The Bearcats struggled to score after the break until Bowman muscled her way into the paint, adding their first points of the second half. This cut BU’s deficit to just three and sparked a run for Binghamton as it managed to retake its first-half lead after Wanzer knocked down her second triple of the night. Weltz also added four points in the period to help revamp the Bearcat offense and Traeger closed out the frame with a layup that gave Binghamton a 48-43 advantage at the end of the penultimate quarter.
“[Weltz] sees the floor so well,” Shapiro Ord said. “She just did such a great job of getting downhill and making some plays. At the end when [Army] had five fouls we needed to continue to attack.”
BU hit the ground running in the fourth period, starting with an 11-5 run that included a three-pointer from Weltz as Wanzer added two more. Despite the Bearcats gaining a double-digit lead, Army once again remained in the game, reducing its deficit to just two points with four minutes remaining. Coming out of a timeout, Binghamton proceeded to go on a game-winning run led by Bowman, with the senior bagging 10 points in the final four minutes of action.
“I asked [Bowman] if she was okay, and she said ‘Oh yeah, I got this,’” Shapiro Ord said. “There was no doubt that when she shot that ball it was going in.”
BU ended the win with four different players with double-digit scoring, including Traeger who finished the game with 14 points and 15 rebounds, her first double-double of the season. The senior also added three steals to her stat line with Bowman contributing four of her own.
“[Bowman] knocked some shots down,” Shapiro Ord said. “Traeger continually is a beast on the boards and then finishing. Everybody got in and when their name was called, they did a great job.”
The Bearcats will play their next game on Monday, Nov. 14 where they will travel to Syracuse. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, New York.