Down by six points with just one minute remaining, the Binghamton women’s basketball team appeared to have sealed its fate. After four quarters of inconsistent play and poor free-throw shooting, the Bearcats’ defense tightened significantly. Two Yale turnovers and two blocks by senior center Alyssa James compensated for the team’s previously erratic effort and resulted in a 6-0 run from BU (4-4) to force overtime. Binghamton’s effort, however, disappeared again as the Bulldogs (4-3) capitalized on the game’s most meaningful possessions to win the game, 73-69.
“From the beginning of the game, Yale came out harder than we did, and we didn’t answer,” James said. “[We] got a little bit of momentum at the end of the game, but in overtime, just like the way the game started, they had more energy than we did. That’s the reason the game ended the way it did.”
The Bearcats opened the game slowly, going scoreless for almost the first four minutes. The drought was ended by James, who carried the team’s offense for the remainder of the first half. Using an array of pump fakes and pivots, James found success isolating in the post, finishing the first half with 13 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Outside of James’ defensive performance, BU’s guards saw little success defending Yale sophomore guard Roxy Barahman, who tallied 16 points on 50 percent shooting in the first two quarters. Consistently hitting tough pull-up jumpers, Barahman led Yale to a 35-30 halftime lead.
“We were playing [man-to-man] mostly in the first half,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “We made an adjustment at halftime and went to our zone defense. We were able to shut [Barahman] down a little bit.”
Binghamton’s defensive adjustments proved effective in the second half, as Barahman was held to just three points on one-of-seven shooting. Binghamton’s offense featured a shifted focus as James’ scoring efficiency fell. Yale played James more physically and often doubled her in the post, unintentionally creating more space for senior guard Imani Watkins on the perimeter. Watkins scored 10 second-half points and was able to drive to the rim repeatedly.
“[In the] first half, it was really Alyssa [James’] half, so we just pounded it in and fed it to her,” Watkins said. “She got tired, they changed the way they defended, so somebody else had to step up.”
Watkins ultimately had a chance to win the game in regulation, missing slightly long on a runner from the top of the key as time expired. In overtime, Barahman scored five unanswered points in a 30-second span to regain momentum for the Bulldogs. Watkins kept Yale’s lead within one possession multiple times in the game’s final minutes, but the Bulldogs’ execution at the free-throw line kept their lead intact throughout overtime.
“[Yale] shared the ball well — they made the extra pass,” Cimino said. “They made some open shots. They’re not a very good free-throw shooting team or 3-point shooting team, and today they shot the ball well.”
Binghamton’s poor showing from the free-throw line put them at a disadvantage, shooting just seven-of-17 for the game. The team has shot 71 percent shooting from the charity stripe on the season.
“You can’t win a basketball game, especially when it’s a one-possession game going into overtime by missing 10 free throws,” Cimino said. “That’s the most frustrating thing that I’m taking from the stat line today, minus the fact that we lost the game.”
Binghamton is set to return to action against Bryant on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield, Rhode Island.