Before academic woes deemed him ineligible last season, Rayner Moquete proved to be a reliable shooter for the Binghamton men’s basketball team.
The then-junior guard averaged 8.1 points per game and converted 35.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. In half of his 16 games played, Moquete buried at least two treys.
But that shooting stroke that kept the Bearcats (4-14, 1-4 America East) in games last year—most notably against Cornell—has all but vanished. Moquete missed the first seven 3-pointers he attempted this season, and he simply has not found his rhythm from beyond the arc.
Moquete is shooting 20.4 percent from deep, despite attempting more than three long-range shots per game.
“I believe it’s really important for me to get it going because it would certainly help the team,” he said. “That, I guess, is the main point over here—to help and give my piece of the pie to the team and just contribute and help achieve our goals.”
In the team’s three single-digit losses, Moquete has shot 1 for 8 from beyond the arc. He said he knows he, singlehandedly, could have helped Binghamton win more games if he had connected on a few more shots.
“If I keep improving my shot—and I believe that in the last few games I’ve been coming along—the more I keep doing that in the next few games…we’re going to get a few of those wins [in close games],” he said.
Sophomore guard Karon Waller buoyed the Bearcats by foregoing a redshirt. In eight games played, he has averaged 7.6 points—ranking fifth on the team—while shooting 50 percent from the field and long range. Though Waller’s shooting capabilities have provided Binghamton with another perimeter threat, Dempsey said Moquete is a “key piece” to improving the team’s 38 percent clip from the floor.
“He’s struggled from the field this year. Sometimes you snap out of that, and sometimes you don’t,” Dempsey said. “I think that what I hope over the next six weeks is he’ll have one of those games where he gets it going a little bit, gets his confidence going, and [that] snaps him out of kind of a prolonged shooting slump here because we do still struggle—our field goal percentage offense is not where it needs to be to consistently win.”
Moquete, who has played through a broken finger on his non-shooting hand, agreed that confidence is a crucial factor in his success.
“I’ve got to start being more confident and just getting used to having that mindset of firing the ball when I have the open shot—I struggle a little bit with that,” he said. “It’s just being ready, being more prepared.”
Though Moquete hasn’t found an offensive rhythm, he has cemented himself as Binghamton’s most reliable perimeter defender. He suffocated Cornell sophomore guard Nolan Cressler in the second half of Binghamton’s comeback victory on Nov. 13, and he has earned his 19.9 minutes per game by keeping the opponent’s top perimeter threats in check.
“The defensive end, I always see it as a constant. That should never change,” Moquete said. “We could score 100 points, but if we don’t get stops, we’re going to lose anyway. Even in a bad shooting night, if we get stops we could win.”
Moquete’s perimeter defense could be the difference in tonight’s game against Hartford, which is scheduled to tip at approximately 7 p.m. The Hawks (9-11, 3-2 AE), who have nailed 35.8 percent of their 3-point attempts, boast several threats from beyond the arc.
Junior guard Wes Cole, who went 10 for 20 from deep in Hartford’s most recent contest, leads the team and ranks second in the America East at 45.2 percent.
“We definitely know that they can shoot the 3-point shot, so we’ve got to take it away from them,” Moquete said. “As soon as their best shooters get the ball, harass them, make them drive, put it on the floor, drive and kick and just close out with patience and good poise because if we just let them shoot it’s going to be a long day.”
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