With 3:26 remaining in its game against New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Binghamton women’s basketball team trailed by only three. Junior guard Kim Albrecht had just drained a jump shot to cut the deficit, 49-46, but her late effort wouldn’t be enough, as BU (1-6) dropped its fifth straight match by a score of 52-48.
The Bearcats started strong against the Highlanders (5-4), scoring the first points of the game and maintaining the intensity characteristic of their play this season. But even that intensity could not douse the fire that ignited Highlander sophomore guard Alana Dudley: NJIT’s assist leader racked up 11 straight points in a four minute stretch — nine of which came via 3-point baskets — to put her team up, 21-14, with 7:49 remaining in the first half. That success from distance contributed to NJIT’s dominant 50 percent shooting clip from 3-point range in the half.
“[NJIT] made shots in the first half that they haven’t made all year,” Binghamton head coach Linda Cimino said. “Credit to them for making the shots, because they’re not a great 3-point shooting team.”
Sophomore forward Leah Horton was also integral to the Highlanders first-half success. Horton scored four straight to increase the Bearcats’ deficit to 30-18 with 4:04 left to play before halftime. But four quick points from freshman guard Imani Watkins and a trey from Albrecht cut the lead to eight heading into the locker room.
The Bearcats opened scoring in the second half quickly. Watkins converted a three-point play off of a fouled layup followed by a put-back from senior forward Sherae Swinson to cut NJIT’s lead to only one. But the Highlanders responded promptly. They outscored the Bearcats, 8-4, to push their lead to 45-40 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Pressuring NJIT on the offensive end in the second half, Binghamton’s defense played on point, never allowing the Highlanders to lead by more than six. On that offensive end, the Bearcats remained within striking distance throughout, stalling only after Albrecht’s late score. In those final minutes, BU went scoreless until the final four seconds of the game, but it was too late, and NJIT pulled away to its four-point victory.
“We were right there and we would miss a layup and then come back and [get a] stop on defense,” Cimino said. “We would have our opportunity and then come down and get another stop on defense, so it was a little frustrating because we were right there.”
For the Bearcats, Watkins led scoring with her game-high 19 points. Swinson followed up in adding 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bearcats.
Despite trailing most of the game, BU stayed competitive throughout Saturday’s contest. And despite capturing just one victory so far this year, Cimino has continually seen signs of improvement from her team.
“The good thing is that we’re continuing to get better,” Cimino said. “We’re making adjustments and the girls are able to make the adjustments that we’re asking for, so that’s a positive to look forward to.”
The Bearcats are set to return to play on Wednesday at Colgate University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, New York.