Just three seasons ago, the Binghamton women’s basketball team languished near the bottom of the conference, winning just two conference games. These days, BU is a competitive team in the America East (AE), going 8-8 in league play and securing the fifth seed for the conference tournament.

This change in status is mainly due to the changes implemented by head coach Linda Cimino, who took the helm in the spring of 2014 and set out to transform the program.

Although the Bearcats have shown marked improvement from recent seasons, they have struggled to execute down the stretch in games this year, being outscored in the fourth quarter in almost every contest. This has led to a number of close losses, including a particularly tough-to-swallow, double-overtime loss to Hartford earlier this season.

But BU’s season has also included highlights, including the impressive play of junior guard Imani Watkins and junior forward Alyssa James, who are among the top players in conference. Watkins is the undoubted leader of BU’s offense and James is nationally ranked in blocked shots per game. A group of talented rookies have joined them on the court. Freshman guard Kai Moon has started every game and is a constant offensive threat for the Bearcats. Classmate guard Carly Boland has proven adept at making 3-pointers, coming through in several crucial situations for the Bearcats.

After missing all of last year with a torn left ACL, 2015 AE Rookie of the Year and redshirt sophomore guard Jasmine Sina returned this season poised to retake an important role. While she hasn’t returned to freshman-season form, she averages 10 points per game and leads BU with 87 assists.

BU is set to take on No. 4 Maine in the first round of tournament play. The Bearcats lost to Maine, 62-49, on Sunday to close out the regular season. In the rematch, the Bearcats will have to quiet AE All-Conference senior guard Sigi Koizar, who tallied 17 points in the teams’ most recent matchup and can be deadly from beyond the arc.

Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 3.