After dropping two straight conference games, the Binghamton women’s basketball team looked to bounce back in the America East (AE) on Wednesday night against Vermont. Despite a game full of scoring runs and droughts for both teams, UVM took control in the final minutes, defeating the Bearcats in the end by a score of 63-56.
“[Vermont] is a really good team we played, and we’re at their place,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “That second quarter was tough, but we put ourselves in a position to still win in the third quarter, losing that lead and getting it back. We went up a couple and we had some kids that stepped up big. Some of the non-starters stepped in — [freshman guard Meghan Casey] and [redshirt freshman forward Kaelonn Wilson] came in — and gave us some really good minutes as well.”
A contested first half opened with the Catamounts (14-6, 6-2 AE) setting the tone by converting in the post as the Bearcats (10-11, 3-5 AE) turned the ball over several times. Shaking the visitors proved difficult for UVM, though, as BU continued to match its opponents’ scoring with six field goals made each, ending the opening quarter tied at 15 points apiece.
The second period, however, saw the game take its foot off the gas as an exchange of points in the frame’s opening minutes left the score at 22-19 — before both teams went on a three-and-a-half-minute scoring drought. A three from the Catamounts eventually broke the scoreless run, followed by back-to-back scores from redshirt freshman guard Ella Wanzer and senior guard Denai Bowman, helping the Bearcats back into the fray shortly after. The hosts would finish the half off themselves, controlling the remaining scoring as Binghamton entered the half facing a 31-23 deficit.
“Any of our starters, any of them can score,” Shapiro Ord said. “If they’re hawking [Wanzer] and she’s not getting easy looks or easy shots, then other people step up. When we were going downhill, when we were getting into the paint, good things were happening and we were on the free-throw line a little bit. We did a really good job. We were 80 percent from the free-throw line which is terrific, but that didn’t happen in the second quarter and that was tough.”
A game full of highs and lows for BU continued as the second half was opened with sophomore forward Genevieve Coleman making consecutive baskets, including a three-pointer that would spark the run that brought the Bearcats back into the game. The theme of trading baskets persisted as neither team could break away from the other, setting up a tight final frame with the hosts up 43-41.
This run by BU could not be kept up as UVM didn’t relinquish its lead a single time in the fourth period. Contributions from Coleman, as well as three-pointers from Casey and redshirt freshman guard Jadyn Weltz, who lead the Bearcats in scoring with 12 points on the night, proved to not be enough to find a lead or the win in the end.
“I think we’re very competitive,” Shapiro Ord said. “We’re in the middle of the hardest part of the schedule because we had the three best teams in the league that we had to go back-to-back-to-back on, and we’re on the road. I think this is preparing us for something really special at the end I think. I mean we’re right there. It’s not like we’re getting blown out. They’re close games. The kids battled to the end. It’s gonna change.”
On top of Weltz’s performance, Bowman and senior guard Clare Traeger scored 11 points apiece and nine from Coleman were the foundation for Binghamton’s scoring on the night. While the visitors ended with a 38.6 percent rate from the field, balanced scoring across the board from four different Bearcats kept them in the game.
“I thought [Traeger] and [Bowman] both played a lot of minutes and gave their best,” Shapiro Ord said. “I mean [Traeger] went three-for-three from the free throw line [and] she had seven boards. We’ve got to rebound the basketball. We had six second chance opportunities and [Vermont] only had one, but we’ve just got to keep getting better, keep grinding, and we will.”
Binghamton will continue its short conference road trip against Bryant on Jan. 28. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield, Rhode Island.