Following an impressive surge to overcome an 18-point deficit, the Binghamton University women’s basketball team sputtered in the final minutes of Saturday evening’s game at Lehigh University. The Bearcats allowed the Mountain Hawks to score 19 points in the final 10 minutes, while managing just eight of their own, before dropping the game, 72-60.

BU (3-4) got off to a slow start in Saturday’s game as it quickly fell behind to Lehigh (4-5) and accumulated a deficit that reached 18 with just under six minutes left in the first half. With the Bearcats down 39-21, junior guard Orla O’Reilly hit her fourth 3-pointer of the night, leading her team on a 15-point surge over the final six minutes of the half to cut the Mountain Hawk lead to seven going into halftime. O’Reilly, who went 5-for-6 from behind the arc on the night, put up 21 of her career-high 23 points in the first half, accounting for nearly 60 percent of BU’s 36 first-half points.

O’Reilly’s impressive performances of late have been big for the Bearcats, who opened their season without their lone senior, guard Jackie Ward.

“With Jackie being injured, obviously Orla and [freshman guard Jasbriell] Swain’s minutes have definitely increased,” said Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl. “The two of them haven’t gotten a lot of breaks during games, and they’ve been able to play through that … Orla, I thought, stepped up big tonight, especially that first half … She just kind of got on a roll, shooting the ball well, and I thought our players did a great job of giving it to her, and … I think her shot is really kind of what brought us back in the first half.”

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Bearcats showed no loss of momentum suffered during the halftime break, as they carried the end of the first half’s surge into the start of the second. A 3-pointer from Swain less than a minute into the half started the Bearcats off on a nine-point run that gave BU its first lead of the night, putting the visitors up by five with just under 15 minutes left to play.

The Bearcats were able to protect the lead until a 3-pointer from senior forward Courtney Dentler put Lehigh up by a point with 9:28 left on the clock. In the game’s remaining minutes, the hot Bearcat offense fizzled and the defense faltered as the Mountain Hawks went on a 19-8 run that would prevent BU from seeing a lead for the rest of the game and eventually earn Lehigh the 72-60 victory.

Swain and junior guard Andrea Holmes, who have led the team this season with double-digit points in each game prior, managed only five points combined on the night. Though Swain posted a game-high seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds, while Holmes put up six assists of her own, BU undoubtedly suffered from the scoring struggles of two of its best offensive players.

As subpar performances from Holmes and Swain left a gaping hole to be filled in the Bearcats’ offense, BU’s remaining players swiftly stepped up. In addition to O’Reilly’s career-high 23 points, junior forward Viive Rebane contributed a season-high 16 points, while sophomore forward Kara Elofson added 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

When asked if she was impressed by her team’s ability to step it up and stay in the game, Scholl responded that she believes that is precisely the kind of team the Bearcats are.

“With our starting five group … you try and stop one of them and there’s four others, plus a couple on the bench that we may be able to go to,” Scholl said. “So, to me, it’s difficult for teams to really focus on that one player because we do have so many weapons out there.”

Jackie Ward saw her first playing time of the year in Saturday’s game, though her appearance lasted only three minutes. Scholl said Ward had not seen much practice time as of yet and the coaching staff wanted to limit her playing time her first game back, though she should be seeing more action in upcoming games.

The Bearcats are set to face off against Siena College (1-4) at 7 p.m. tonight in the Events Center.