For the first time in over a year, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team has won back-to-back games.
The Bearcats (2-4) took care of Division III opponent Marywood University on Saturday night, 76-51, in front of a crowd of 3,604 at the Events Center. With the victory, Binghamton has strung together two straight wins for the first time since January 2011.
Marywood (1-3) came out shooting in the first half, knocking down 42.3 percent of its attempts from the field and draining 50 percent of its three-pointers. Nine turnovers committed by the Bearcats would keep the game close, as Binghamton carried a 39-30 lead into halftime.
“I think we were going through the motions a little bit in the first half,” Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “The reality of it was we weren’t playing as hard as we needed to play in the first half. Marywood took advantage of it, especially with a spurt late in the first half, made it a game, which allowed us to really refocus at halftime, and then we came out in the second half and took care of business.”
Out of the break, Binghamton started to pull away with a 12-0 run in the first five minutes. While the Bearcats only managed a 39.4 percent clip from the field in the second half, they held the Pacers to 17.2 percent on 5-of-29 shooting.
Of the 11 players to get minutes for Binghamton, 10 of them scored at least two points.
“We’re trying to settle into a group of eight or nine,” Dempsey said. “Those answers aren’t definitive yet … I’m trying to get a look at some different guys and I’ll continue to do that over the first half of the season and hopefully we’ll get settled in soon to who our group is. I don’t think we’re deep enough to play 10, 11 guys, so I’m just trying to figure out who the top eight or nine are and kind of go from there.”
With 8:57 left to play, the Bearcats’ lead topped out at 34 points after junior forward Brian Freeman converted consecutive layups in a 22-second span.
Binghamton had a chance to win by an even larger margin, leaving points on the board with missed free throws. After the 12-of-24 performance at the line on Saturday, Dempsey’s team now has a 60 percent mark from the charity stripe through six games.
Sixteen turnovers was a cause for concern for the Bearcats, but they did force 19 turnovers and outscored the Pacers 30-15 on lost possessions. Binghamton also outscored Marywood on second chance opportunities, 23-9.
With a rare chance to exploit a size advantage, the Bearcats dominated the boards against a smaller Marywood team, tallying 51 rebounds to the Pacers’ 35. BU also pulled down 21 offensive boards in the contest.
“Put a couple wins together in a row, certainly helps your belief system,” Dempsey said. “We’ll try to keep giving ourselves a chance every night and hopefully if you’re in the games night-in and night-out, you’ll find a way to win your share.”
Freshman guard Jordan Reed continued to impress on Friday night. In his fourth collegiate game, Reed led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. The double-double was his third of the season.
Senior guard Jimmy Gray scored 15 points on five three-pointers and added seven assists. In his first start of the season, senior forward Javon Ralling pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Bearcats will try to keep things rolling on Wednesday night when they are scheduled to travel to Philadelphia for a matchup with University of Pennsylvania. The Quakers (1-5), led by juniors Miles Cartwright and Fran Dougherty, have lost five consecutive games since their season-opening win against University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Nov. 9.
“They have two really good players and a lot of other guys who are young and talented and still trying to prove themselves at this level, and they’re going to get a lot better,” Dempsey said. “A lot of times when you’re young and you’re playing against a really hard schedule, it’s hard to find wins early. They’re probably in must-win mode in this game on Wednesday, so we’ll have to be really good.”
Binghamton senior forward Taylor Johnston and junior forward Roland Brown, who both sat out with sprained ankles against Marywood, are set to play against Penn, barring any setbacks.
Tipoff at The Palestra is scheduled for 7 p.m.