Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Binghamton University women’s basketball team hit a road bump in its season. After getting off to a quick 2-1 start, the team dropped both of its games in the Hilton Garden Thanksgiving Tournament in Northern Arizona to fall to 2-3. But the Bearcats returned home to the Events Center Wednesday night in thrilling fashion to beat the Army Black Knights, 63-61.
The first half of play saw a back-and-forth game in which neither team was able to go on a significant run. When BU (3-3) took a five-point lead with just over five minutes gone, Army (2-5) responded quickly as it bounced back and took a three-point lead of its own.
After the Bearcats tied the game at 25 with just under eight minutes to go, neither team was able to take a lead of more than two points for the remainder of the half as Army took a 39-38 lead into halftime.
But the second half told a different story.
“[To start the game] we weren’t as intense as we could have been,” freshman Jasbriell Swain said. “[At halftime] the coaches came in and challenged us [to pick up the intensity], and as a team we love to take challenges.”
Forty-five seconds into play in the second half, sophomore Kara Elofson was fouled on a layup attempt and hit both free throws to give the Bearcats the lead by one.
After Army responded and tied the game with a free throw of its own, the Binghamton offense made its move and tore past defenders en route to a 12-0 run. During the five-minute span, BU benefited from five Black Knight turnovers, and as the clock ticked past 13 minutes to go in the game, the Bearcats held a comfortable 52-40 lead.
“We worked [especially] on the defensive end because everything [in the first half] was going right on the offensive end,” Swain said.
But for the next 10 minutes, it was Army that everything was going right for, as the Black Knights went 5-of-6 from beyond the arc over the course of a 17-3 run that led to a 57-55 lead, their first since halftime.
Down the stretch, Elofson proved her importance to the Bearcats as a role player as she gave BU a one-point edge with just over two minutes to play and, not long after, worked hard in the post, stretching the Bearcat lead to five with 20 seconds to go.
But the final moments played out just as the 39 minutes preceding them had, as Army nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Binghamton lead to two with under 10 seconds remaining.
Army intentionally fouled junior Viive Rebane to send her to the line. The strategy worked as she failed to draw iron on her attempt and the Black Knights were given the ball after no time had elapsed from the clock.
The Black Knights inbounded and managed one final heave from half court that fell short as Binghamton held on for the two-point win.
“Coming back from two tough losses at [the] Northern Arizona [tournament], I thought our kids responded and bounced back,” said Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl, who also mentioned that she thought her team came out slow in the first half but turned it on in the second.
Wednesday was a milestone night for junior guard Andrea Holmes. She finished with 18 points, surpassing 800 for her career, while also passing Melissa DiPaola for 20th place on Binghamton women’s basketball’s all-time scoring list. Her efforts earned her America East Player of the Game honors.
“She’s just fantastic, she’s just improved consistently from year to year and really now has gotten comfortable in her leadership role,” Scholl said of Holmes. “She does so many things for us besides the scoring aspect that sometimes you don’t see on the floor.”
Swain continues to impress as Wednesday’s game marked her third double-double of the season. She had 12 points and 11 rebounds, to go with six steals.
Four Bearcats scored in double figures Wednesday night, which Holmes especially appreciates as she feels less pressure to take over with her ability to score, something she had to do consistently earlier in the season.
BU is set to head to Pennsylvania to take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.