Sophomore guard Kai Moon dribbled leisurely up the court, passing to senior guard Imani Watkins, who pump faked and rifled it back to senior center Alyssa James at the wing. Considering a three, James dribbled up before tossing it back to Watkins, who faked a three, ditched a defender and charged to the basket.
Watkins shot glanced off the backboard and dropped gently through the basket. And just like that, Watkins became the second player in Binghamton women’s basketball program history to reach 2,000 points and only the 10th player to reach the milestone in the America East Conference. Aided by Watkins’ offensive prowess, the Bearcats (17-8, 8-4 AE) defeated UMBC, 68-53.
“It’s just special,” Watkins said about the milestone. “You know, you’re leaving your mark. You’re making history and that’s something nobody can ever take from you. It’s just a testament to my coaches and my teammates.”
Watkins, James, Moon and junior forward Rebecca Carmody each reached double figures, creating a balanced offense that helped BU over the Retrievers (3-22, 2-10 AE).
“I think the biggest thing tonight was that we played together,” Carmody said. “It wasn’t just [Watkins] scoring tonight, or [Moon] scoring or [James]. We had multiple people get on the board and that’s huge, especially if we want to keep making it big.”
The first half was closely contested, with neither team able to effectively assert its dominance. Binghamton periodically opened up small leads, never exceeding seven points throughout the half, but they didn’t last long, as UMBC was able to cut the deficit each time. The first half came to a close with the Bearcats holding a slim lead of 31-29. Despite reaching her milestone, Watkins was sitting on just six points on an inefficient three-of-13 shooting.
“At halftime, we looked at the scoring and we were pretty well-balanced,” said BU head coach Linda Cimino. “And in a night where [Watkins is] not scoring her average, you need other people to step and I thought we got that tonight.”
The third quarter started off well for the Retrievers, as their defense didn’t allow Binghamton to produce much offensively. The first five minutes saw UMBC go on a 10-3 run and establish a five-point edge.
That was when the Bearcats decided to go on a run of their own. Binghamton surged back to overtake UMBC behind Carmody’s storm of offense and defense. Carmody ended the night with 11 points and 10 rebounds, scoring seven points and four boards in Binghamton’s 13-0 run to end the third quarter.
“I was making my layups,” Carmody said. “I was getting rebounds. I was just doing everything that I’m supposed to do. That’s one of my biggest roles, to run in transition and make my layups and get rebounds, and it was working for me and I had some rhythm.”
Entering the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead, the Bearcats didn’t look back. They would go on to cruise to a 15-point victory. Moon led the Bearcats with 17 points, but Watkins’ scoring still owned the night as she became the second player to reach 2,000 points in program history. Watkins is now approaching her next milestone, as she is only 19 points away from breaking Bess Greenberg’s 2001 record for most points in program history. Cimino could not hold back her pride in Watkins’ accomplishments.
“[Watkins] will be the best player to ever put a uniform on here at Binghamton,” Cimino said.
The Bearcats, have now won six of their past seven games and sit a game and a half behind second-place Albany.
“I think we’re right where we wanna be,” Carmody said.
The Bearcats are set to face Vermont on Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Events Center in Vestal, New York.