In the span of two days, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team played against two teams that employed high-pressure defensive schemes in Mount St. Mary’s University and Monmouth University. Both times, the Bearcats (2-7) came up empty, falling to the Mountaineers, 71-70, on Saturday and the Hawks, 77-65, on Monday night.
Against Mount St. Mary’s (3-3), freshman guard Jordan Reed scored four points in the last minute alone and senior guard Jimmy Gray sunk a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to keep the Bearcats in the game. But when Reed drove the lane to take the potential game-winning shot, he was blocked.
Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey begged for a foul, but the game had already been called over. Reed, when asked if there was contact, said, “No comment.”
The Bearcats led for most of the game but allowed the Mountaineers a late 9-1 run that gave them a lead of 69-63 with just 54 seconds left.
“I think our energy level dipped,” Gray said. “We always talk about energy level, and … before we went into the second half, we gave them a chance to get back in the game.”
Binghamton shot 51 percent to the Mountaineers’ 46, but coughed up 21 turnovers, off which the opponent scored 28 of its points. The game endured nine ties and lead changes.
Reed led the Bearcats with 17 points, converting 6-of-10 field goals. Senior forward Taylor Johnston, who went 4-for-7, and junior forward Roland Brown, who went 4-for-4, combined for 21 points. Gray’s performance was written all over the stat sheet, with his 10 points, four steals, six assists and eight rebounds.
Against Monmouth (5-3), the first half started off quickly and tightly with five ties and four lead changes, but within the last five minutes, the Hawks surged. With 5:15 left, the teams sat tied at 26. Then Monmouth used a 10-2 run to hold a 38-28 lead at halftime.
“Late in the first half was crucial … To be down 10 at halftime was really deflating,” Dempsey said. “But we came right out in the second half and showed a lot of fight.”
The second half opened with Reed dominating the court, leading the Bearcats on a 7-2 run within a minute and a half. But Monmouth increased its lead to 17 and fended off every Bearcat run.
“They did a good job of trapping us in the front of the court,” Reed said. “At times it was extremely hard for us to see down the court — if we had, that probably could have given us easy layups — but it was extremely hard. But we have to be composed with it next time.”
Reed shot 10-for-17 from the floor and led the team with 26 points, four steals and 10 rebounds, earning him his fifth double-double. Gray and Brown followed with 10 and eight points, respectively, and Johnston and Moquete each tallied five. The team grabbed 36 rebounds and nine steals, but also allowed 21 turnovers, on which the Hawks scored 32 of their points.
“We had some lulls in the game where we were kind of just throwing it to them, and turnovers were certainly an issue again,” Dempsey said. “When you turn it over to layups, as we did time and time again tonight, that really becomes deflating.”
Monmouth head coach King Rice, a 1987 McDonald’s High School All-American and, like Gray, a graduate of Binghamton High School, said he was scared to play Dempsey’s team.
“[The Bearcats] remind me of our team last year,” Rice said. “What I mean by that, is that they continue to play hard, and they never give up, and they keep fighting, and that’s a big step when you first take over.”
Rice also said he was proud of Gray, looking past the former walk-on’s nine turnovers.
“Jimmy did things that not many people thought he could do,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re from a small town, a lot of people doubt you. But Jimmy had a dream: he was a D-I basketball player — he just knew he was. And he’s a pretty doggone good one.”
The Bearcats are set to return to action on Saturday at Bryant University. Tipoff against the Bulldogs is set for 1 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center.