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Lady Bearcats fall 79 to 43 in America East Semi-Finals

By Twitter: @alexhoward99.
VESTAL, N.Y. – A season in which the Binghamton women's basketball team (14-17) exceeded all expectations came to an end with a 79-43 loss to four-time defending champion Albany (26-4) in the second round of the America East Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center. The Bearcats were making their first appearance in the semifinal round since the 2012 campaign.

With just nine scholarship players on its active roster entering the season, the Bearcats were picked to finish last (ninth) in the America East. Instead, they finished tied for third during the regular season. Binghamton's 14 victories more than tripled its four-win total from a year ago and was its highest win total since going 19-11 in 2010-11.

"I am so proud of our team and all that we accomplished this season," head coach Linda Cimino said. "As upset as we are that we did not win today, I told the team in the locker room what a great season we had."

Sophomore forward Imani Watkins finished with a team-high 14 points against Albany. She also added six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Watkins finished the season averaging 16.0 points per game, which ties for the 12th-highest, single-season total in Binghamton program history. It also represents the highest average by a Bearcat player since Sarah Carmtill finished the 2001-02 season with 18.4 points per game. Earlier in the weekend, Watkins was named second-team all-conference.

Senior guard Kim Albrecht added 11 points to finish her career with 907 points. She ends her career ranked No. 19 all-time in program history in scoring, seventh with 118 three-point field goals and first with a .859 free throw percentage (231-269). Albrecht was named third-team all-conference before the start of the tournament.

The Great Danes wasted no time getting started on Sunday, scoring the game's first 14 points in the opening 6:33 of play. Zakiya Saunders had eight points during that stretch.

Binghamton got to within 25-16 on a three-point field goal by McKayla Hernandez with 5:51 left in the second period. From there, however, Albany went on a 13-4 run to go up 38-20 at the half.

In the second half of the game, Albany showed no signs of letting up. The Great Danes shot 17-for-34 from the field over the final 20 minutes of play.

After sinking a pair of free throws with 1:28 remaining, Albrecht was subbed out of the game for the final time in her career. She received a standing ovation from the Binghamton portion of the 2,904 fans in attendance.

Shereesha Richards, who is the three-time reigning America East Player of the Year, poured in a game-high 33 points in the winning effort. Tiana-Jo Carter added 11 points and Saunders finished with 10 points.

Sophomore forward Alyssa James had eight points, nine rebounds and a game-high three blocks. For the season, she finished with a conference-best 2.99 blocks per game. Her 92 blocks is also the second-highest, single-season total in Binghamton program history. James was recently named the America East Defensive Player of the Year and joined Albrecht as a third-team all-conference selection.

Binghamton loses only Albrecht to graduation and will return sophomore point guard Jasmine Sina to its active roster next year. Sina was named the 2015 America East Rookie of the Year but missed this season due to an injury. In addition, the Bearcats will welcome five freshmen to their roster, all of whom signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) back in November.

NOTES: Watkins and Albrecht each averaged 14.5 points during the Bearcats' two America East Tournament games while James finished with six total blocks.

courtesty of bubearcats.com