Though most Binghamton University students returned home for winter vacation, the BU women’s basketball team continued its season schedule and began conference play over the last few weeks. The Bearcats are now 13-7 overall and 6-1 in the America East.
Binghamton’s hot streak was put on hold during the University’s finals week, but when play resumed the team picked up right where it left off, extending its win streak to three games with a 53-39 win at Mount Saint Mary’s.
A key to the team’s early success had been its ability to come out quickly to begin both halves, and BU stayed true to form against the Mountaineers as it jumped out to an early 10-2 lead. Ahead comfortably 44-28 with just under six minutes remaining, the Bearcats held on for a 14-point win.
The victory marked BU’s third in a row, its first such streak since the 2008-09 season.
Binghamton then headed to New Jersey for the Monmouth Hawk Holiday Classic and hit its second road bump of the season as the Bearcats dropped both games.
BU remained within striking distance of American early, but American maintained at least a 20-point lead throughout the second half and ended Binghamton’s win streak at three with a final score of 58-32.
In the tournament’s consolation game, the Bearcats faced off against the host Monmouth Hawks. Monmouth led despite multiple second-half BU runs and with the help of clutch free throw shooting defeated the Bearcats, 60-51.
“We come out strong at home, we just have to be more consistent with doing that on the road,” said Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl.
The Bearcats then returned to the friendly confines of the Events Center where they looked to improve upon their undefeated home record against Cornell, their final non-conference foe.
Binghamton shot 50 percent from the field in the first half to jump out to a 43-33 lead heading into the locker room. In the second, the Bearcats compensated for a lower shooting percentage by holding Cornell to just six field goals as BU downed the Big Red, 65-55.
“It becomes a matter of starting the game off well … sticking with your game plan and being ready to play every night,” Scholl said.
In its first conference matchup, Binghamton faced off against Stony Brook University. BU trailed for much of the first half but surged past the Seawolves with a 20-6 run en route to a 30-17 halftime lead. Late in the second BU went on a 16-3 run to lead by 24 points and put the game out of reach for Stony Brook, cruising to a 63-43 win.
Facing New Hampshire, the Bearcats fell behind early in the second half, but responded with a 7-0 run to put them ahead for good. Five BU players scored double-digit points and paved the way to a 72-60 win.
The team looked to improve on its road struggles as it set out on a three-game road trip beginning at UMBC.
But the Retrievers had other plans and jumped out to a 29-16 halftime lead behind 16 first-half points from junior Michelle Kurowski. They never looked back and, with the help of Kurowski’s game-high 30 points, ended BU’s winning streak at three with a 55-38 final.
“We didn’t start off well,” Scholl said. “I thought UMBC got some early confidence, and from there everything they put up just fell in.”
BU then traveled to Maine looking to get back on the winning horse, and bounced back from the tough loss at UMBC. Binghamton had an offensive explosion as it scored its most points in a game this season and downed the Black Bears, 78-52.
Hoping to ride the momentum from the previous win, the Bearcats finished their road trip at Hartford in what was a crucial conference matchup. Though trailing by as much as 13 in the early-going, BU roared back and trailed by just one point at halftime, 36-35.
BU kept its foot on the pedal when the second half began and jumped ahead with a 20-8 run. Though Hartford cut the lead to as little as three, Binghamton held on for the important conference win, 69-57.
“We regained our composure and really just went at ‘em. Just a great win for our program,” Scholl said.
With the victory, the Bearcats remained dead even with the Albany Great Danes, who visited Binghamton in both teams’ most important game thus far.
Though the Bearcats had a seemingly comfortable lead throughout the first half, the Great Danes fought back from as many as 12 down to take a two-point lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Binghamton regained the lead shortly thereafter and, with the help of clutch free-throw shooting, took sole possession of second place in the America East with a 50-44 win.
The Bearcats then traveled to Vermont and with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Catamounts led by one point. But from there, BU went on a 10-2 run to end the half leading 32-25.
With just over six minutes remaining in the game, junior Andrea Holmes scored her 19th point of the game, giving her 1,000 points for her career.
Though down by as much as 13 in the second half, they stormed back with a 19-6 run to tie the game at 48 in the final minute. Neither team was able to take the lead as the game headed to overtime.
Holmes put BU ahead for good on a 3-pointer with just over one minute to go. Binghamton downed Vermont by a final score of 55-51.
“We’re at a point now where our team is really starting to understand how good they can really be,” Scholl said. “I think the [loss at UMBC] was a good wake-up call for us.”
The Bearcats are set to travel to Boston University for a Wednesday night matchup as they look to take first place from the Terriers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.