The stage was set on Wednesday night as the second-place Binghamton University women’s basketball team headed to Boston, Mass. to play the Boston University Terriers, with first place in the conference on the line.
Coming off a four-game winning streak, the Bearcats (13-8, 6-2 America East) looked poised to get their first win against the Terriers (11-9, 8-0) in Boston since Feb. 28, 2004. The Terriers, on the other hand, owned a seven-game winning streak going into the game and promised to give the Bearcats their toughest battle yet.
Binghamton got off to a quick start. Highlighted by a couple of baskets by junior Viive Rebane, who posted a double-double, the Bearcats went up 11-2 six minutes into the game. But their early successes didn’t last long. By 8:21 in the first half, the Terriers had tied the game on a 3-pointer by Boston University sophomore Mo Moran, who scored a team-high 16 points. By halftime, the Bearcats were down by 11 points with the score at 35-24.
After Boston started the second half on a 6-0 run to extend its lead to 17 points, Binghamton went on a 10-0 run of its own to bring the score to within nine points, 43-34. Junior Orla O’Reilly and senior Jackie Ward each hit a big 3-pointer during the stretch. With five minutes left to play, junior Andrea Holmes, who finished with 12 points, hit back-to-back baskets for the Bearcats and tied the game at 53, forcing a Boston timeout. Orla O’Reilly hit another key 3-pointer with 1:38 to play to pull the Bearcats to within one point, 61-60. But a couple of missed shots during the last minute of play allowed the Terriers to escape with a 65-60 win.
Despite the loss, the Bearcats showed a lot of resiliency as they fought back from being down 17 points to tie the game.
“This team has the mentality and composure to battle back,” said Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl. “I think we just calmed down and relaxed a little bit, which helped us get back our confidence and let us be more aggressive.”
After letting a quick start to the game get away from them, Scholl was impressed by how quickly her team was able to get right back in it.
“We had a confident group out there who wasn’t afraid and we did what we do well,” she said. “We built a lead early on, Boston came back, and I thought we might have gotten a little nervous there. We weren’t playing with that championship-team feel. But the way we battled back, that’s the kind of thing that we need to continue to do and I feel like we’ve started to do that more this season.”
Boston scored 10 more points off turnovers than Binghamton did, which may have proved to be the difference in the game. Other than that, the box scores were very similar in this back-and-forth game.
“I think we’re pretty equal teams,” Rebane said. “They made a couple of big shots at the end and it’s always tough playing on their home court.”
Rebane, who leads the conference in field goal percentage, put up 14 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
“She’s done so much for us,” Scholl said. “Her rebounding, especially offensively, has given us a lot of second-chance opportunities.”
Orla O’Reilly also performed well on Wednesday, scoring a game-high 17 points including five 3-pointers. Her basket with 90 seconds left to play was enough to pull the Bearcats to within one possession, but the Terriers were able to hang on.
“We just have to continue to stay focused,” O’Reilly said. “We want to win as many conference games as we can but it was still a good game for us. It was really good preparation and we got to see Boston’s strengths, so we’ll be ready for them next time we play this season.”
Despite playing well in the first few minutes of action, it looked as if the Bearcats were hesitant with their shots at times during the first half. After halftime, Binghamton came out with more energy and tenacity.
“Basically she told us just to be confident,” O’Reilly said about what Scholl told the team at halftime. “Even though our shots weren’t falling, she told us to just keep shooting and she told us to not be afraid of them.”
Although this was a great opportunity for the Bearcats to leapfrog the Terriers in the standings, they were able to find a lot of positives in the game and wouldn’t let the loss hurt their confidence.
“It’s a tough loss but we played well, so to have one game dictate the rest of your season, that’s not going happen,” Scholl said. “We’re heading into the second round of conference play and we’re going to see this team again.”
The Bearcats will look to maintain their perfect home record when they play Maine on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.