Nia Pellone/Staff Photographer Despite senior Orla O’Reilly’s team-leading 16 points, Hartford knocked off the Bearcats 67-58 on Saturday.

Things looked promising at first, but by the time the clock expired it wasn’t even close.

Despite jumping out to an early 17-11 lead, the Binghamton University women’s basketball team fell to University of Hartford on Saturday, 67-58. With the loss, Binghamton slipped into sixth place in the America East.

With a 7-6 conference record, Hartford is now tied for third place with University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Binghamton (12-14, 6-7 AE) sits only one game behind, but with only three regular season games remaining before the conference tournament, time to pursue a higher seed is quickly running out.

On Saturday, the Hawks jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Orla O’Reilly and junior Mallory Lawes put Binghamton ahead. Hartford would regain the lead and go ahead 11-8, but a 9-0 BU run put the Bearcats up by six just under midway through the half.

Despite carrying early momentum, Binghamton struggled on the offensive end over the next few minutes, and the team looked set to head into the locker room down 24-23.

But in the final 29 seconds of the first half, the Hawks gave themselves a cushion, converting on two quick offensive possessions. Junior Daphne Elliott converted on a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and Hartford took a 29-23 halftime lead.

Elliott would finish the game with 20 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the floor and an impressive 5-of-9 from behind the arc.

In the second half, the Bearcats managed to keep close, but Hartford’s hot shooting never allowed the Bearcats to legitimately pose as a threat.

BU pulled within five points of Hartford with 12:26 left in the half, but 3-pointers by Elliott on three consecutive possessions put Hartford up 50-38 with only 10 minutes left in the second half.

Despite shooting lights out from downtown, Elliott wasn’t the only one Binghamton had trouble slowing down.

Junior Nikkia Smith scorched the Bearcats for 24 points, shooting 8-of-13 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. Smith dropped 15 of her 24 points in the second half, one of the primary reasons BU was never able to regain the lead.

Binghamton shot 47 percent from the floor (21-of-45), but the team’s 18 turnovers proved to be costly against the defending America East champions.

O’Reilly led BU with 16 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Senior Andrea Holmes finished with 14 points despite shooting only 33 percent (4-of-12). Senior Viive Rebane and Lawes each finished with 11 points, capping the third time this season Binghamton has had four double-digit scorers.

The Bearcats are set to be back in action against UMBC tomorrow night in Baltimore. On Jan. 19, Binghamton knocked off the Retrievers 61-43.

“We know UMBC is a good team at home,” said Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl. “They shoot the ball well at home so we have to be ready to defend and limit their second-chance opportunities.”

Despite currently sitting in sixth place, Binghamton can still make up plenty of ground in its final three games. A win over UMBC would pull the Bearcats into at least a fifth place tie, and with games against University at Albany and University of New Hampshire to follow, Binghamton is still in contention for a top-three seed in the America East Championship.

Tipoff for tomorrow’s game against UMBC is set for 7 p.m.