Following a 90-36 rout against Cortland on Monday, the Binghamton women’s basketball team found itself down 17-3 in the closing minutes of the first quarter against Penn on Wednesday night, prompting senior guard Imani Watkins to be benched. Things were looking grim for the Bearcats (2-1) until sophomore guard Carly Boland’s 3-pointer propelled them back into the contest, which they ultimately won 77-72.
On Monday night, senior center Alyssa James was honored for scoring 1,000 career points before the game. Binghamton put on a rare performance in which all its players scored and every player contributed double-digit minutes in a dominant victory over the Red Dragons. Led by Watkins and sophomore guard Kai Moon, who each scored a team-leading 18 points, BU quickly took a 19-3 advantage after the first quarter. The Bearcats topped off the night with 26 assists.
Unlike the confidence and dominance displayed on Monday night against the Red Dragons, Binghamton got off to a slow start against the Quakers (0-1) on Wednesday. The Quakers’ senior guard Anna Ross began the game by rocketing off the tipoff to throw in an easy layup. This was just the beginning of an explosion from Ross who opened the quarter going 4-4 from the field, scoring 10 points. With Ross’ help, the Quakers took a quick 17-3 lead.
For a moment, it seemed like the Quakers were going to show the Bearcats a performance that Binghamton delivered two nights ago. Then, Boland helped propel Binghamton to a 7-0 stretch that brought the game within reach and trimmed the BU’s deficit to just seven points.
“I knew we could come back,” Boland said. “We just had to settle down and realize that we need to do the little things in order to win. Box out, get rebounds and just take it play by play.”
The Bearcats focused on those fundamentals to ignite their explosion in the second quarter, scoring 24 points to bring themselves within one of the Quakers going into the half. Watkins, who had been benched for nearly eight minutes for uncharacteristic play, was a big part of that second-quarter surge, posting eight points, including two 3-pointers, in the final four minutes of the quarter. Watkins finished the game with 27 points despite not scoring until the second quarter.
“Coach put me on the bench. Just seeing how well my teammates played without me on the floor and feeding off of their energy,” Watkins said when asked what sparked the difference in her play.
The Bearcats were able to take the lead over Penn in the third quarter, pushing the score to 41-40 and taking a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. Binghamton was able to hold onto the advantage to finish off the game, defeating the Quakers by five.
“This is a huge win for our program,” Cimino said. “I believe that Penn is the best team on our schedule. They’re the best-coached team we’re gonna play all year.”
The Bearcats’ bench played an integral part in the victory against the Quakers, outscoring the Quakers’ reserves 26-9 behind junior forward Rebecca Carmody’s 11 points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Boland’s 13 points and six rebounds.
“We’re deeper than we’ve ever been,” Cimino said. “We’re two deep at every position.”
Coming off two consecutive victories, the Bearcats have a lot of confidence going into their upcoming games in the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Hopefully, we’ll continue to improve as a program out there and [the road trip] will bring our kids closer together culture-wise, off the court,” Cimino said.
Before the trip to Alaska, the Bearcats will take on Southern Utah this Saturday. Tipoff from Centrum Arena is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. in Cedar City, Utah.
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