Rita Mogilanski/Staff Photographer

The Binghamton University women’s basketball team was propelled to victory by an explosive second half during Tuesday night’s game against Siena College, as it topped the Saints 72-59. On Saturday, the Bearcats followed it up by knocking off the University of Massachusetts, 58-52, in a tightly-matched battle that bumped the Bearcats over .500 and earned them their fifth win of the season.

The Bearcats got off to a sluggish start that led to a tight first half in Tuesday night’s game against Siena. It was nearly four minutes before BU saw its first points of the night in the form of a layup by junior forward Viive Rebane. With neither team able to retain the lead for long, the Bearcats found themselves down 16-14 with just over four minutes left to play in the half. A layup by junior guard Andrea Holmes then sparked a seven-point run for BU that was highlighted by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Jasbriell Swain. BU’s lead was cut down to just two points going into halftime, however, as Siena junior Cristina Centeno nailed a shot from behind the arc with 34 seconds left on the clock, to make the score 21-19.

“For us, I thought it was very disappointing that we didn’t come out strong with our energy and intensity level,” BU head coach Nicole Scholl said of the Bearcats’ first-half play. “Siena is a good ball club, but I feel we weren’t playing to our potential out of the gate. At halftime, we talked a lot about that and our players responded very well.”

The score remained close in the opening minutes of the second half, with the Bearcats up by a single point with just over eight minutes left in the game. In the following minutes, though, the BU offense finally exploded, racking up nine points in the next two minutes in a streak that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Swain and junior guard Orla O’Reilly to put the Bearcats up by 10. BU would protect the lead for the game’s remaining minutes as it posted 51 points in the second half alone before finally finishing on top with a final score of 72-59 for its third straight victory at home.

Rebane, who ended the night with a career-high-tying 20 points and 10 rebounds, picked up her seventh career double-double, as well as America East Player of the Game honors.

Holmes also had a big night, finishing with a game-high 21 points and a game-high seven assists in a bounce-back performance following last week’s game against Lehigh where she managed only two points in the loss.

“It’s all about composure,” Holmes said when asked about the team’s explosive second half performance following a slow first half. “Coach Scholl talked about not getting frustrated and not showing bad body language. It’s hard to do in the heat of the moment, but all in all you just have to focus on maintaining composure and I think tonight, as a team, we did that and that’s how we were able to come out in the second half and be successful.”

Seventeen of Holmes’ 21 points came in the second half.

Senior guard Jackie Ward, who missed the first eight games of the season due to injury, earned her first points of the year in 12 minutes of play when she sunk a 3-pointer with 14 minutes left in the second half.

Saturday evening’s game against the University of Massachusetts got off to an equally tight start, and remained close throughout. With the score tied at 18-18 with just under five minutes left in the first half, O’Reilly hit her third 3-pointer of the night to put BU ahead. The Bearcats would hold on to the lead for the remainder of the half before entering halftime with their biggest lead thus far, up 28-23.

The score remained close in the second half, with the Bearcats managing to hang onto a slim lead despite foul trouble from Rebane and sophomore forward Kara Elofson and a slew of BU turnovers. With under five minutes left in the game and the Bearcats leading by a single point, Rebane hit a jumper to spark the BU offense. Rebane would later foul out, but the Bearcats went on to score nine points in the game’s closing minutes to seal a 58-52 victory.

O’Reilly ended the night with a team-high 16 points, as Holmes contributed with 12 of her own and a game-high six rebounds. Rebane and Elofson led the team with seven rebounds apiece.

BU is next scheduled to face off against Mount St. Mary’s on the road Saturday at 3 p.m. on Saturday.