With the score knotted at 50 in the Binghamton women’s basketball team’s matchup with Maine, junior guard Imani Watkins drilled an open three to give the Bearcats (10-11, 5-3 America East) the lead. They didn’t look back, holding on to defeat the Black Bears (11-12, 4-4 AE), 58-52.
“I thought we made good adjustments defensively,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “We had to have a defensive mindset today, and that’s what we did and that’s what won us the game.”
Down the stretch, BU’s defense held firm. With Maine up by two with just 12 seconds left, Black Bears’ senior guard Sigi Koizar drove to the hoop, but the Bearcats were able to draw a charge.
“We knew that [Koizar] was going to have the ball in her hands,” Cimino said. “We just talked in the timeout about helping and not trying to block shots, just stay planted … we knew if we did that the referees would have to call a charge.”
BU’s defense allowed just 10 points in the final frame. BU did not allow a field goal for the final 4:11 of the game, and the Bearcats also held Maine to 36.7 percent shooting in the game. Koizar was Maine’s top scorer with 14 points, while freshman guard Bianca Millan added 12 points of her own.
Junior forward Alyssa James spearheaded BU’s defensive effort, collecting six blocks to go along with her 11 rebounds and three steals.
“Alyssa James is the best defensive player in the league,” Cimino said. “She did a tremendous job on the boards … I do think she was the biggest difference in terms of the defensive end.”
Watkins and freshman guard Kai Moon were also important to BU’s key stops. Each had three steals and one block on the day, and the pair was also BU’s main source of offense, combining for 30 of BU’s 58 points.
Both guards played all 40 minutes of action. This is nothing new for Watkins, who leads the conference with 37.4 minutes per game. Moon is also used to the heavy workload, as she is averaging 34.4 minutes per game in her freshman year.
“Not too many freshmen that can come in right away and play this many minutes,” Moon said. “So that means a tremendous amount that coach [Cimino] has the trust in me to be in not only at the beginning of the game but at the end.”
With the win, the Bearcats snap a seven-game losing streak against Maine. Their last win over the Black Bears came in the 2012-13 season. The Bearcats are now in a three-way tie for second place in the AE. Halfway through its conference slate, BU hopes to carry the momentum from this win into the final stretch of the season.
“We don’t talk about what happened in the past,” she said. “All we talk about is today and we focus on the future.”
BU is set to take the court on Wednesday against UMBC. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Retriever Activities Center Arena in Cantonsville, Maryland.