Forty minutes was not enough time to determine a winner when the Yale women’s basketball team visited Binghamton for the first time in the history of the two programs.
With their leading scorer, guard Tamara Simpson ’18, missing the game because of a family commitment, the Bulldogs (4–3, 0–0 Ivy) rose to the occasion and outlasted the Bearcats (4–4, 0–0 America East) in an overtime thriller, winning 73–69. The team was led by the stellar play of guard Roxy Barahman ’20, who scored a career-high 24 points while adding seven rebounds and five assists.
On the opposing side, Binghamton benefited from a standpoint performance by center Alyssa James. Achieving her first double-double of the season, James posted 23 points and 13 rebounds and moved into fourth place on the America East all-time blocks list by rejecting a game-high six shots.
“Winning is tough,” head coach Allison Guth said. “It’s tough on the road. It’s tough after a momentum shift. We take away our ability to finish against a very good Binghamton team. We also take away that we have a very talented team with depth. We had a lot of players step up and it was a total team effort.”
From the outset of the game, it was clear that the Bearcats looked to the inside to establish their momentum offensively. They came into the matchup averaging 26.7 shots from 3-point range per game and put up a mere three shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Instead, Binghamton looked to use the post and score through James. Although James was effective on offense with 13 first-half points, she was also a solid presence on the defensive end of the floor, garnering three of her six blocks before halftime.
Despite James’ early efforts, the Bulldogs entered the locker room with a 35–30 lead at the half due largely to the play of Barahman. The sophomore found her stroke from midrange en route to 16 first-half points on seven-of-14 shooting. Barahman also showed her rebounding prowess to be a consistent strength of her game throughout the season, leading the effort on the boards in the first half with six of her seven total rebounds.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair until the final moments of regulation, and neither team was able to gain a significant advantage. With 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs held a 63–61 lead when they turned the ball in the backcourt under duress from the Bearcats’ full-court press. During the ensuing possession, Bearcat guard Imani Watkins drove to the hoop for an off-balance layup that forced overtime. After another Eli turnover, Binghamton had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but came up short.
In the overtime period, the Bulldogs pulled out the victory after a huge 3-pointer by Barahman and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch kept the Bearcats at bay. In addition, the Elis buckled down on defense, getting key stops and forcing three turnovers by Binghamton, including one with 10 seconds remaining that sealed the game.
“Down the stretch we were really able to capitalize on our free throws, which were really key to us closing the game,” Barahman said. “Although they did have a good run at the end of regulation, we were able to change the momentum going into overtime, which really helped us come out with the win. All of us believed we would win the game, and I think that really helped with our confidence shooting down the stretch.”
Despite leaving Binghamton with a win, Yale felt Simpson’s absence on the defensive end of the ball. Without Yale’s best defensive player, Watkins tallied 23 points, six steals, two assists and four rebounds, all surpassing her season averages.
Additionally, the Bulldogs tallied six steals as a team in Saturday’s contest. Simpson on her own tallied nine takeaways last game against the Providence Friars.
“We need to stay focused on every play for 40 minutes,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “Our opponents will make runs, but we can and will bounce back. I think it says a lot that we beat a team that recently took down Penn, last year’s Ivy League champion, without our leading scorer playing in the game.”
According to Guth, the team’s performance down the stretch was significantly better than Wednesday night’s performance against Providence, where the Bulldogs took some questionable 3-point shots and allowed offensive rebounds that sealed away a tough loss.
Saturday night was a drastically different story, as the Elis looked much more confident in crunch time after focusing on closing out games during practices in between games. However, there were a few areas where Yale still can improve, such as valuing possessions and solidifying defensive stops by rebounding the ball.
“I’m very proud of our team and honored to coach them,” Guth said. “There is so much hunger, and we desire to improve daily. At this point we have so much to work on and so many positive things to build off of. Our goal is to grind it out on the road against some tough opponents in order to prepare us for Ivy play.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Long Island, New York, to take on Stony Brook on Wednesday night.
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