Coming off a 54-50 loss to Siena, the Binghamton women’s basketball team looked to bounce back at home against a winless Navy team on Wednesday afternoon. Despite being down for the majority of the game, the Bearcats took over late and squeezed out a 54-51 victory against the Midshipmen.
“This group keeps battling and battling,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “It is a tough time of the year, but this is just going to help us prepare for [the] conference.”
After winning the opening tip, Navy (0-10) got the scoring started quickly with a three-point point basket. BU (6-5) responded with two baskets of its own from senior guard Denai Bowman and redshirt freshman guard Ella Wanzer. Throughout the starting period, the Bearcats struggled offensively as they shot just 31.3 percent from the field while the Midshipmen shot an efficient 57.1 percent. At the end of the first period, the hosts found themselves down 20-10.
“I don’t think anyone [in the conference] has had a schedule like we had with so many games in such a short period of time,” Shapiro Ord said. “We never know what’s going to happen so we’ve got to stay ready, and I think we’re doing a tremendous job.”
As the second period got underway, both teams continued trading baskets. Binghamton gathered some momentum when sophomore forward Genevieve Coleman converted on a three-point play. Wanzer followed up Coleman with a three-point basket of her own, cutting the Bearcats’ deficit to five. Despite the Bearcats tightening their defense and holding Navy to just 35.7 percent shooting in the second period, the Midshipmen would not relinquish their lead, entering the half with a 32-27 advantage.
“We just want to stay prepared,” Shapiro Ord said. “We are awesome at home … it wasn’t our typical home appearance with knocking down threes and knocking down shots.”
Bowman got the scoring started for Binghamton in the second half with a jump shot. Although Navy lead 38-30, the momentum began to shift in the Bearcats’ favor as they went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to just two points. Both teams exchanged baskets during the final minutes, and BU trailed by three points as the penultimate quarter came to a close.
“They knew they had to get stops, it was team basketball,” Shapiro Ord said. “They played great team defense and were there for each other.”
Senior guard Clare Traeger got the scoring started for Binghamton in the final period after making a layup to cut the Navy lead to just one. With just over six minutes to play, Bowman connected on a turnaround jump shot to give the Bearcats their first lead of the game. The Midshipmen countered by hitting a three-pointer of their own and retook the lead. Both teams would continue to go back-and-forth, and with under a minute to go the score was tied at 51. With 17 seconds remaining, Bowman attacked and connected on a layup to give the home team a 53-51 lead. On the following possession, Bowman forced a turnover, and the Bearcats secured possession of the ball. After redshirt freshman guard Jadyn Weltz was fouled in the game’s final seconds, she hit one-of-two free throws to increase BU’s lead to three. Despite one last attempt from the logo to tie the game, the shot rattled in and out and the visitors’ effort came up short. When the final buzzer sounded, BU ended up on top 54-51.
“Game in and game out, [Bowman] hasn’t been getting the 18-point games, but she still does everything else,” Shapiro Ord said. “She gets the assists, the steals, rebounds and blocks. We put her on [Navy’s] best player for most of the game and that’s tough.”
Bowman led the way for the Bearcats on both ends of the court, finishing with 18 points and four steals. In addition, with under a minute to go, she made the game-winning layup to secure BU’s victory. Coleman also added 15 points of her own in the winning effort.
“It took a lot of grit,” Bowman said. “Being down by a few points and coming back from that. We were prepared very well, and we executed when we needed to most.”
Binghamton will go on the road to face St. Bonaventure on Friday, Dec. 9 in its next game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Reilly Center in St. Bonaventure, New York.