Binghamton women’s basketball head coach Linda Cimino has preached all season that her team will hustle and play with intensity. And on Wednesday, despite being dominated in nearly every way against America East powerhouse Albany, the Bearcats (4-21, 2-10 AE) did just that. BU trailed by as many as 32, but never folded, cutting the deficit to 15 points before falling, 75-53, to the conference-leading Great Danes (18-7, 11-1 AE).
After an Albany layup to open the game, Binghamton junior guard Kim Albrecht drained a 3-pointer to put BU on top early. But that one-point lead would be the last Binghamton would hold for the game. Though BU hung tight with the Great Danes for the first few minutes, junior forward and reigning AE Player of the Year Shereesa Richards took control of the game. With Albany leading, 11-7, Richards scored the next seven points and 18 total in the half, as the Great Danes took a commanding lead, 35-14, into the locker room.
The second half began mirroring the first, with Albany getting off to an 18-5 run. The Great Danes extended their defense full-court, forcing four Bearcat turnovers in the opening three minutes of the half and increasing its advantage to 31 points in the process. A layup by Richards with 16:14 left in play pushed the lead to 52-20.
The offensive blitz of the Great Danes didn’t go unanswered, however. Although the 32-point deficit proved to be insurmountable, the Bearcats attempted a comeback, slowly chipping away at Albany’s lead.
Binghamton more than doubled its scoring total from the first half, racking up 38 points after halftime and improving its field-goal percentage from 24 percent in the first period to 50 percent in the second. Led by Albrecht, senior forward Sherae Swinson and freshman guard Jasmine Sina, the Bearcats played with high intensity. They dove for loose balls and got to the free-throw line, slowly cutting the deficit from 32 to 15, 64-49, with 3:08 to play.
“We’ve motivated them to just go hard for a couple of minutes and we would keeping calling time outs, but I think that our whole game plan all year is to play hard and be intense,” Cimino said. “You have to leave it all on the court. I think that they’ve been doing that all year for us. That’s what we want Binghamton basketball to be known as: We want everyone to think that we play hard.”
Despite the energy the Bearcats brought to the contest, their run was stopped short. Albany pulled away in the final minutes, stretching its lead to 22 points, 75-53, by the sound of the final buzzer.
Richards dominated the game for the Great Danes, scoring 35 points on 67 percent shooting from the field.
For BU, three Bearcats scored in double digits. Albrecht led BU with 17 points while Sina and Swinson added 16 apiece.
The Bearcats and Great Danes had previously faced off on Jan. 24 at the Events Center, which saw BU lose by a score of 82-49. Although Wednesday’s game yielded the same outcome as the squads’ first meeting, coach Cimino saw a difference between the two:
“We’ve gotten better since the beginning of the season and as the season has gone on,” the first-year head coach said. “At home, we lost to Albany by 33. I think that we did a better job of sticking together as a team and playing together. We’ve been doing that all season and obviously, every game you get better and you improve.”
Binghamton is set to host New Hampshire on Saturday in a game that will air on ESPN3. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at the Events Center.