A second-half comeback in the opening round and a routing by the No. 2-ranked defense in the championship round landed the Binghamton women’s basketball team in second place at the Lobos’ women’s basketball Thanksgiving Tournament this weekend.
After four straight losses to start the season, the Bearcats (1-5) stormed back from a nine-point deficit to defeat host New Mexico, 58-53, in the first round of the tournament Friday night at the Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., only to fall victim to Arkansas’ elite defense in the final round on Saturday night, 72-23.
In BU’s first victory of the 2013-14 season, UNM redshirt junior guard Antiesha Brown knocked down a jumper with 6:22 left in the second half to extend the Lobos’ lead to 48-39. But BU sophomore guard Kim Albrecht, who finished with 15 points, drained a basket with 3:29 left to put the capper on a 12-3 run that would even the score at 51-51.
After the teams traded baskets to knot the score at 53-53, sophomore guard Kandace Newry connected on a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to put Binghamton up for good. With 14 seconds left, senior guard Vaneeshia Paulk put the game beyond doubt when she sunk a pair of free throws.
Junior forward Sherae Swinson led Binghamton with a game-high 18 points, while Newry, in her first start of the season, stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Redshirt senior guard Sara Halasz led the Lobos with 14 points.
Saturday was a different story for the Bearcats, as Arkansas’ defensive prowess was on full display.
Heading into the weekend, Arkansas (8-0) boasted the second-ranked defense in the nation, only surrendering 44 points per game. In their two weekend contests, however, the undefeated Razorbacks held their opponents to just 30.0 points per game.
The Bearcats were unable to carry over the momentum from the previous night into the championship round as they fell behind 35-9 going into the break. The Razorbacks held BU to just 14 percent from the field on 3-for-22 shooting.
In the second half, the Bearcats didn’t fare much better, posting a 21 percent clip from the field on 5-for-24 shooting.
Junior forward Jhasmin Bowen led Arkansas with 15 points, while junior guard Gintare Surdokatie led the Bearcats with a career-high eight points.
“This weekend was good experience for us, especially playing two games on back-to-back nights,” head coach Nicole Scholl said, according to BUBearcats.com. “The win over New Mexico was great but [Saturday night] (against Arkansas) was a bit of a letdown with our intensity. Arkansas is a very good team but we were hoping for a carryover from last night.”
“Looking ahead, we can take a lot from this weekend,” she added. “We grew as a team [Friday night] in our win and [Saturday], we had some of our younger players come off the bench and play significant minutes for us. Overall, this weekend was a positive for us.”
Up next for BU is a trip to Cornell on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y.