With the third quarter winding down, and the Binghamton women’s basketball team up 16 on UMBC, senior center Alyssa James caught the ball at the top of the key and took a running hook from the elbow. Taking a shot that is not normally in her arsenal, James drained the runner to extend the Bearcats’ lead, exemplifying the success it saw in a 30-point rout of UMBC (2-18, 1-6 America East), claiming victory, 81-51.
“I think I was just a lot stronger in the post with the ball,” James said. “My teammates did a great job of getting it to the post.”
Following a win over UMass Lowell on Sunday, Wednesday’s win marked Binghamton’s second consecutive win by 30 points. In a night that featured a lack of scoring from senior guard Imani Watkins for most of the night, James and sophomore guard Kai Moon combined for 42 points to lead the team’s offense. James was honored before the game for breaking the all-time blocks record in both Binghamton (13-7, 4-3 AE) and AE history.
“When your top scorer only has three points in the first half, and you’re still winning, I think it’s a good day,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “It just shows you how deep we are … It was a great team win.”
Despite the lopsided result, the game’s first half was tightly contested, mainly due to UMBC senior forward Lakiah Sims. Her ability to distribute out of the high posts gave the Retrievers a few open layups, as Sims contributed five points, four rebounds and three assists in the game’s first 20 minutes. Binghamton’s adjustment to its defense at halftime was key to slowing Sims down and blowing the game open.
“We made an adjustment to how we defended in our zone,” Cimino said. “[Associate head coach Leah] Bowers did a great job drawing up the play at halftime and spelling it out to the players how we’re gonna defend it. [Sims] is a great player. In our scouting report, we talked about how good of a passer she was, and she definitely lived up to that today.”
Binghamton dominated the second half, outscoring the Retrievers 44-20 in the half. Moon and James continued to thwart UMBC on both ends of the court. Moon finished the game with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and seven steals. James recorded another double-double, ending with 22 points and 11 boards. The Bearcats were in complete control of the game, leading by double digits for most of the second half.
“We did a great job getting the ball inside to [James] … and that was our game plan,” Cimino said. “Our guards did a good job of getting her in [position], and she was able to convert and score for us … We stuck to the game plan, and I was happy to do that.”
Moon’s poise against the Retrievers was key to facilitating the offense and tightening BU’s perimeter defense. Able to create opportunities both for herself and teammates, Moon was also efficient in her performance, shooting five-for-seven from the field and eight-for-10 from the foul line while committing zero turnovers.
“[Moon]’s a phenomenal player,” Cimino said. “She brings so much personality to the program. People are talking about how we’re gonna replace Imani next year, and it won’t be easy. We’re gonna be relying a lot on [Moon] next year.”
After earning their second consecutive convincing victory, the Bearcats will head on the road to face a New Hampshire team that they’ve already lost to this season.
“We have a huge game this weekend,” Cimino said. “We gotta redeem ourselves. We had a bad loss here to New Hampshire.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday from the Lundholm Gym in Durham, New Hampshire.