Down by one point going into the second half against Vermont, the Binghamton women’s basketball team caught fire. Junior guard Imani Watkins and redshirt sophomore guard Jasmine Sina led the way in a 76-61 victory over the Catamounts (7-16, 4-7 America East).
Although Watkins and Sina carried the team for much of the game — contributing 25 and 14 points, respectively — the BU bench outscored the Catamount bench, 17-7. The bench’s strong performance helped spark a third-quarter run that gave the Bearcats (12-12, 7-4 AE) a 37-36 advantage with 6:53 left in the third.
“We talk all the time about how your sixth and seventh person really have to contribute; everyone knows you’re going to focus on one through five,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “The biggest difference at this level is what six, seven and eight are going to give, and teams that have good players off the bench are usually teams that are going to win and go far in the tournament.”
The Bearcats proved to be a team of that caliber through this victory, as sophomore guard Rebecca Carmody and freshman guard Carly Boland found their rhythm on the court. Carmody showcased her ability to lay it in under pressure, scoring key baskets off turnovers in the third quarter.
“We all feed off each other and I think defensively, whether it was Alyssa [James] taking charges or Imani [Watkins] making shots, collectively it was a team win,” Sina said. “And the bench does a great job as well in getting us really excited during the game.”
The Bearcats put on a clinic, knocking down 42.6 percent of their shots, including 50 percent from beyond the arc. They committed just seven turnovers compared to Vermont’s 18. The BU women also converted 12 of their 14 free throw attempts.
The role of sixth and seventh player has been crucial to BU’s success thus far due to the constant foul trouble in which James has found herself. Staying out of foul trouble helps keep the BU bench fresh, leading to a more positive end result. James did just that against Vermont, staying on the court for all 40 minutes and contributing 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We put together a great second half, and we didn’t turn the ball over,” Cimino said. “And I think the biggest difference is we didn’t give up points off turnovers and second-chance points.”
A majority of the Bearcats’ damage was done in the third quarter. During this stretch, BU scored eight second-chance points, the bench finished the quarter with 11 points to UVM’s two.
The Bearcats are set to continue AE play against Albany on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the SEFCU Arena in Albany, NY.