The Binghamton men’s basketball team held a 33-32 lead over UMBC with 14:53 left, but 20 turnovers and a 34 percent clip from the field plagued the Bearcats in their 59-49 loss on Sunday afternoon at the Retrievers Activity Center.
The Bearcats (3-26, 1-15 America East) were led in the first half by senior Taylor Johnston. The 6-foot-7-inch forward scored 10 of his 16 points in the opening frame, including five points in a 19-second span to help give Binghamton a 14-9 lead with 12 minutes left in the opening 20.
But Binghamton’s impressive shooting performance to start the game wouldn’t last, as the Bearcats shot just 3-of-14 in the final eight minutes of the half. The Retrievers (7-22, 5-11 AE) and Bearcats evened the score three times over that stretch before UMBC escaped the first half with a 26-25 lead when junior guard Ryan Cook drained a 3-pointer. Cook finished with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.
UMBC scored 12 points off 11 Binghamton turnovers in the first half.
In the second half, BU reclaimed the lead with 14:53 left to play on one of Johnston’s four 3-pointers. And after the Retrievers regained and extended their lead to as many as six, the Bearcats pulled to within two points, 42-40, midway through the half after freshman guard Jordan Reed converted a pair of free throws.
But from there, UMBC sophomore guard Brian Neller hit two 3-pointers in a span of 1:15 to propel the Retrievers to a 48-40 lead that they would not surrender. The Bearcats were outscored 17-9 to end the game.
“Overall we didn’t play very well,” BU head coach Tommy Dempsey said, according to www.bubearcats.com. “Give UMBC credit … They stepped up and made a lot of big shots, especially their seniors. Our energy in the zone was good but their top two shooters [Cook and Neller] hit shots in crucial times. As a group, we made poor decisions against their zone and that caused a lot of turnovers.”
Binghamton junior forward Brian Freeman scored eight points to go with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Reed’s 11 points and 12 rebounds were good for his league-leading 13th double-double. With Maine sophomore Justin Edwards pouring in 29 points in the Black Bears’ regular-season finale on Sunday, Reed now stands at No. 2 on the America East scoring chart. The freshman is averaging 16.667 points per game to Edwards’ 16.678.
Reed, who is also averaging a league-best 9.6 rebounds per game, is seeking a spot as the conference’s first-ever freshman to win both the scoring and rebounding titles.
As the No. 8 seed in the conference, Binghamton is set to begin its postseason with an America East quarterfinal matchup against top-seeded Stony Brook. It marks the second consecutive year that the SUNY schools have competed against one another in the quarterfinals.
In last year’s postseason matchup, the Bearcats converted half of their attempts from the field and hit 10 3-pointers, but ultimately fell to the Seawovles 78-69.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Albany’s SEFCU Arena.