With conference play approaching and four non-conference games left to work out the kinks, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team will look to grab its first road win this Saturday when it travels to Rhode Island to take on Bryant University.
The Bearcats (2-7) are coming off of a 77-65 home loss to Monmouth University in which 21 turnovers prevented BU from ever gaining control of the game. Two days earlier, Binghamton fell to Mount St. Mary’s University, 71-70, and was once again plagued by 21 turnovers in the contest. With the Mountaineers (3-3) scoring 28 points off turnovers and the Hawks (5-4) scoring 32, Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey said his team has struggled with ball control.
“I think part of it is playing against two really good pressing teams our last two games,” he said. “Both teams, Mount St. Mary’s and Monnmouth, are really strong at forcing turnovers. Those games presented tough matchups for us because we turn the ball over a lot, they force a lot of turnovers so it was a tough matchup. But we’ve worked the last couple of days just on ball-handling and decision-making, so hopefully we’ll get [better] at it as the season goes on.”
Another consistency for Binghamton has been the play of freshman guard Jordan Reed. Reed, fresh off a 26-point and 10-rebound performance against Monmouth, was listed on CBSSports.com’s weekly “Freshman of the Year” rankings written by blogger Jeff Borzello. The rookie has averaged 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, both good for No. 1 in the America East Conference. His four double-doubles also had him ranked eighth in the nation and first among guards, while his 10.3 rebounds per game had him at 19th in the nation and fourth among guards as of Monday afternoon.
“I think some freshmen at times struggle with the adjustment to the next level, from an intensity standpoint, how hard you have to play defensively, how hard you have to go to get a rebound, how hard you have to cut to get open, those kinds of things,” Dempsey said. “I think a lot of freshmen struggle with that, but I think one thing that Jordan has done from day one here is he’s brought an incredible energy and an incredible will to win right into the program.”
After winning back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two years late last month, Binghamton has now dropped its last three games and remains winless on the season in road games. But the common denominator in each of the last three losses has been the Bearcats’ resilience. Despite each result, BU has had its chances to win and has been right there in each game. The key is learning to finish.
“I do think the fact that we’re able to compete every night right now, I think that’s helping our guys realize that if we can clean a couple of things up here and there, we should be able to close games and get [the] win,” Dempsey said. “I think when you’re picked last and you’re coming off a season where you only won one conference game, the first step in the building is to become competitive in your league and I think we’re heading toward that.”
Bryant (4-3), meanwhile, just had a four-game winning streak snapped in a 64-62 home loss to Yale University. The Bulldogs are led by sophomore guard Dyami Starks and junior forward Alex Francis, who are averaging 17.3 and 15.9 points per game, respectively.
Dempsey said Bryant has a good team and that the Bearcats will need to play very well to win on the road. Binghamton is 0-4 away from the Events Center.
“We’re going to have to find ways to win some road games if we’re going to be competitive in our league,” Dempsey said. “It would be really nice to be able to get a road win before conference play starts, and we have a couple more opportunities to try and do that.”
Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Chace Athletic Center.