With 1:38 remaining in the first quarter, redshirt sophomore guard Jasmine Sina slashed to the net and missed her layup opportunity. She was sent tumbling to the floor and began to wince in pain. But like the flip of a switch, Sina darted back to the action and stole the ball from an unsuspecting UMass Lowell player.
For a single moment, Sina captured the mood of the Binghamton women’s basketball team’s 69-54 win over UMass Lowell (3-20, 0-10 AE) on Saturday. Despite trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Bearcats swiftly stole the second half from the River Hawks.
After a back-and-forth first quarter, UML began the second quarter on an 11-point run to take a 24-13 lead.
“Because this team can’t compete in the tournament, they had nothing to lose,” said junior guard Imani Watkins. “They would love nothing more than to ruin our season.”
Down but not out, the Bearcats (11-12, 6-4 AE) snatched momentum halfway through the second quarter. Junior forward Alyssa James stole a River Hawk inbound pass, which came in quick succession to Watkins’ own inbound steal just six seconds earlier.
Thanks to clutch threes from freshman guard Carly Boland and Sina, the Bearcats outscored the River Hawks, 14-8, to cut the deficit to just a point by halftime.
Following the break, the Bearcats began to command the court.
“I thought our kids played a really good third quarter,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “Our defense definitely propelled our offense.”
In the third quarter, the Bearcat defense combined for four blocks and took possession of five turnovers committed by the River Hawks, who lead the conference in turnovers. This allowed BU to increase its time of possession, leading to more scoring opportunities and a chance to break ahead on the scoreboard.
This became apparent when Watkins and Boland combined for two consecutive threes to put the Bearcats ahead, 48-41. BU held the lead for the rest of the game.
Three separate times, Watkins found net from beyond the arc in the third quarter, finishing the game with 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals. What was seen on the court, however, may have been the least of her contributions.
“She single-handedly led that spark and that comeback in the third quarter,” Cimino said. “Imani [Watkins] basically told the team that we had to change our defensive intensity in the third quarter.”
In total, the Bearcat bench added an impressive 25 points toward the win. From the bench, sophomore guard Rebecca Carmody was able to exploit an athletic mismatch with her defender and tallied 10 points.
With two minutes remaining in the game and victory all but certain, Cimino made a wholesale lineup change that allowed several reserve players to share in the spoils of victory. All things said and done, all 13 Bearcats received minutes.
“The starting group was on the bench screaming and encouraging,” Cimino said. “We have good kids; they really root for each other’s success and I was really happy to be able to do that.”
The Bearcats are scheduled to return to action against Vermont tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.