Coming off a 77-73 loss against Loyola, the Binghamton women’s basketball team returned home on Saturday afternoon and secured a 73-65 win against St. Bonaventure at the Events Center. BU held firm control over the Bonnies in the first half, with strong shooting performances from its bench. In the second half, St. Bonaventure cut into the BU lead, outscoring the Bearcats 20-9 in the fourth quarter. However, the Bearcats narrowly escaped with an eight-point victory.
“I’m really excited for this team because they worked really, really hard,” said Binghamton head coach Bethann Shapiro Ord. “We just try to keep getting better, and we try to put them in positions to win. To get over that hump today really felt good.”
After Binghamton (2-2) won the opening tip, redshirt sophomore guard Jadyn Weltz promptly drained a three-pointer off a pass from graduate student guard Denai Bowman. Weltz stayed hot for BU in the next sequence by grabbing a defensive board and driving to the basket for another score to give BU a 5-0 lead over St. Bonaventure (1-3). Near the end of the quarter, sophomore guard Meghan Casey got the ball to Weltz and freshman guard Bella Pucci for three-pointers in consecutive possessions. At the end of the first period, Binghamton held a 23-13 lead.
“I loved [the aggression],” Shapiro Ord said. “It all stemmed from our defense and really taking care of the basketball. [Weltz] did a tremendous job with distributing the ball and only having one turnover is awesome. She gets this team going, putting people in a position to score. But the biggest thing is our defense, and they really did a great job locking it down.”
The Bearcats continued to be aggressive in the second period as Casey and Pucci bombarded a Bonnies’ ball handler, forcing a turnover. Then, freshman guard Kaylee Krysztof caught fire for a team-high 11 points in the half-off of perfect shooting from the field and beyond the arc. The Bearcats’ bench outscored the Bonnies’ bench 21 to two and, going into the half, Binghamton led 47-31.
“Coach [Shapiro Ord] talks about knowing your role, and my role is a shooter,” Krysztof said. “[I’m] going out there every game and trying to get as many shots up as I can.”
After the Bonnies got on the board to kick off the third period, BU continued to move the ball with all five Bearcats touching the ball before redshirt sophomore guard Ella Wanzer knocked down a three-pointer. Bowman asserted her presence by drawing consecutive and-one opportunities, the latter being a fadeaway layup. Not long after, Weltz found Pucci in the paint to give the Bearcats their largest lead of the night at 21 points. Heading into the fourth period, Binghamton found itself with a comfortable 64-45 lead.
“Going into the game, knowing what [St. Bonaventure’s] players like to do, what they’re capable of, their weaknesses, their strengths — taking that away and making them do something else played a huge part,” Weltz said.
Binghamton’s 19-point lead quickly shrunk in the fourth period. St. Bonaventure scored 10 points in four minutes — taking advantage of several Binghamton turnovers. When Weltz finally ended BU’s scoring drought by making a layup, the Bearcat’s lead was just nine. Casey followed this up by finding Wanzer for an open three-pointer, to make it a 69-57 game. Eventually, the Bonnies went on an 8-0 run to make it a four-point game with under a minute to go. St. Bonaventure was then forced to foul BU, as free throws from Coleman and Bowman iced the game. Binghamton held on to win by a final score of 73-65.
“The biggest thing is [to not] go back and forth with shots,” Shapiro Ord said. “You’ve got to get a couple of stops in a row. We started to shoot too quickly, whereas, in the first half and the third quarter, we were really trying to hit two sides to really shift their defense, and I think that was a big part of [our struggle].”
Four Bearcats finished in double digits. Wanzer, coming off a career-high 36 points against Loyola, led the way on offense with 12 points. Krysztof was right behind her with 11 points. Lastly, Weltz filled up the stat sheet, finished with 10 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a team-high four assists. BU shot 50 percent from both the field and the three-point line in the winning effort.
Binghamton will hit the road to play Navy on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Maryland.