The University of Maine Black Bears women’s basketball team bounced back in conference play with a 59-56 win against Binghamton University Bearcats.
UMaine entered the game with a 12-8 record, 5-1 in conference play, coming off a 47-54 loss to Albany. Binghamton entered the game with a 7-12 record, 2-4 in conference play, coming off a 73-63 win against New Hampshire. Binghamton had lost the previous eight matchups against the Black Bears.
The Bearcats opened the game on a 7-0 run. Adrianna Smith finally put the Black Bears on the board with a short jumper. The offense looked stagnant, and the full-court press by Binghamton forced four turnovers by the Black Bears. A 3-pointer by fourth-year guard Olivia Rockwood ignited her team, as Maine outscored their opponent 8-3 to end the first quarter, with the Black Bears trailing the Bearcats 13-12.
Rockwood opened the quarter with a tough stepback three to give Maine their first-game lead. Bearcats’ guards first-year Bella Pucci and fourth-year guard Denai Bowman made jumpers to take back the lead, but Rockwood quickly responded with her third three of the night. The Vermont native has come into form from behind the arc, making at least two 3-pointers in her last five games.
Turnovers continued to be a problem for the Black Bears, especially when their leading scorer, Anne Simon, picked up her second foul with six minutes remaining in the second, Binghamton took advantage. Tied 18-18, the Bearcats scored 10 unanswered to give them their biggest lead so far at 28-18 at the close of the half.
Maine looked like a different team coming out of the break compared to their first-half performance.
“I just thought we did a lot better of taking what the defense was giving us,” Head Coach Amy Vachon said after the game. “The last game and a half, I just felt like we’ve really been pressing and really been struggling to score, and so I thought we did a much better job of moving the ball and being smart on the offensive end.”
The Black Bear defense was stifling and forced multiple Binghamton turnovers, which led to some easy points in the transition. Third-year guard Paula Gallego knocked down a three to cap off a 12-0 run and to give Maine their first lead since early in the second quarter, at 32-30.
Second-year guard Jadyn Weltz continued to give the Black Bear defense trouble, getting to the free throw to stop Binghamton’s scoring drought and tie the game. Second-year guard Jaycie Christopher hit a three to give Maine a 35-32 lead going into the final quarter of play.
The start of the fourth quarter was back and forth, with neither team getting a clear advantage, but Maine capitalized on several sloppy plays and turnovers by the Bearcats. With just over 2 two minutes left in the game, Gallego cashed in a 3-pointer to put the Black Bears up 52-42.
But Binghamton didn’t go away that easily. The Bearcats fought back and made it a four-point game with 12 seconds remaining. Both Simon and Rockwood stepped to the line, respectively, and knocked down all their attempts. Despite the late-game opposing heroics, the Black Bears emerged victorious with a score of 59-56.
UMaine will look to continue their winning streak this Thursday when they play the UMass Lowell River Hawks in Lowell.