On Saturday afternoon, the Binghamton women’s basketball team traveled to Smithfield, Rhode Island, looking to get back into the win column. After losing its previous three America East (AE) matchups to Albany, Maine and Vermont, respectively, BU finally prevailed. Despite trailing at halftime, the Bearcats ramped things up in the second half to propel themselves to a 62-51 win over the Bulldogs.
“We played a great team effort,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “People stepped up when they needed to.”
Bryant (7-15, 1-8 AE) got the scoring started with a jumper, but Binghamton (11-11, 4-5 AE) responded after senior guard Clare Traeger was fouled and sent to the free throw line. The Bearcats and the Bulldogs would then go back-and-forth, exchanging baskets for the majority of the first period. However, BU fell slightly behind as it began to miss several opportunities and turn the ball over. Bryant capitalized, holding a 17-13 advantage going into the second period.
“It was a team effort, we had to play really tough team defense,” Shapiro Ord said. “It was great team defense, it was a lot of work and needed to be a team effort.”
Binghamton’s shooting woes continued into the second quarter, with the visitors struggling to get consistent scoring. Despite a few baskets from freshman guard Anna Long and sophomore forward Genevieve Coleman, BU failed to string together a significant run as it shot only 3-13 from the field in the period. The Bearcats were unable to cut into the deficit, and the Bulldogs closed out the half on a 7-4 run. Going into halftime, the Bearcats found themselves down 32-25. Senior guard Denai Bowman led all BU scorers in the first half with eight points.
“[Bowman] added another level of scoring,” Shapiro Ord said. “I asked her before the game to step it up and she did … She was tremendous. Not only just the scoring, but we asked her to guard [Bryant’s] top people, and her six assists to no turnovers … She made some big-time plays at the end.”
Binghamton came out of the gate hot in the second half, going on a 7-0 run to start the third period, which tied the score at 32. After trading baskets for a few minutes, the Bearcats went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter with contributions from redshirt freshmen guards Ella Wanzer and Jadyn Weltz. BU outscored Bryant 17-6 in the third quarter, allowing it to hold a slight 42-38 advantage going into the final frame.
“[Wanzer] had 18 points going 6-for-10 from three,” Shapiro Ord said. “We were getting her some really good looks and really moving the ball to get the defense to work.”
The Bearcats carried the momentum from the end of the third quarter into the final period as their offense continued to fire on all cylinders. Binghamton quickly pulled away as Bryant was unable to stop the visitors’ offense. BU outscored the hosts 20-13 in the final quarter, and Bowman put the game out of reach after scoring a layup with just over 30 seconds left to go, up by 11. When the final buzzer sounded, the Bearcats found themselves on top 62-51.
Binghamton was also able to apply more defensive pressure to the Bryant team, causing them to shoot under 21 percent in the second half. This defensive pressure was shown on the perimeter as well, with the Bulldogs only able to hit six threes for the entire game.
“They had some really good shooters,” Shapiro Ord said. “We had to make sure that we were X-ing out and take care of business. It’s gonna be the second half of the season, we gotta bring it. We gotta dig deep and work together.”
Binghamton will return back home on Wednesday, Feb. 1 to face UMBC. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.