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Men’s basketball can’t keep pace with UMBC

Now isolated in last place with just one conference win, the Binghamton men’s basketball team suffered its sixth consecutive loss at the hands of UMBC at the Events Center Wednesday night.

Binghamton (4-17, 1-7 America East) worked inconsistently and inefficiently, shooting 35.3 percent while attempting to keep pace with its opponent. The Bearcats led just once, about halfway through the first half. They tied at the beginning of the second. But they wound down with the clock, flouting the rest of the way, slipping in and out of a double-digit deficit.

The quick-moving Retrievers (7-14, 3-5 AE) capped off their win, 73-61, with 50 percent shooting to jump from seventh to a sixth-place tie in the conference standings.

“They played well, they moved the ball well. We go through our little stretches where we start putting it in the basket, but it’s comfortable playing against that sometimes,” BU head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “I just thought they had a good rhythm.”

They wasted no time getting into their groove. UMBC jumped out quickly with an 8-0 run spanning four minutes. Three scoreless minutes later, BU requited with a 12-0 run of its own, establishing its first and only lead of the game.

It was short lived. The Retrievers flaunted their bite as much as their bark when sophomore guard Aaron Morgan hit a 3-pointer with 8:07 remaining, knotting the score at 12, before they closed out the half four points ahead, 28-24.

BU came out shooting in the second half, converting on two layups to even out the scoreboard at 28-28 before UMBC broke away for good. Things stayed close, more or less, with UMBC keeping a steady flow of shots and Binghamton struggling to narrow the margin. But despite getting more looks, taking 26 shots in the second to UMBC’s 21, the Bearcats couldn’t find a rhythm. They shot just 34.6 percent in the second half to UMBC’s 57.1.

“We were really struggling to put the ball in the basket,” BU head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “Our shooting numbers every time we look at the stat sheet are so low and then they put so much pressure on our defense. We’re just not at a stage in our program where our defense and rebounding is good enough to carry us through long shooting nights. We have to get better at both ends.”

Despite the unavoidable disappointment in sullied efforts, there is some success to be found: Madray, who snatched nine rebounds, poured in a game-high 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, knocking down two 3-pointers for just the second time in six games. He had converted three of his previous 21 3-point attempts entering Wednesday’s tilt, so his 2-for-6 night from long range could portend a hot streak.

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Madray said.

Sophomore guard Jordan Reed also approached a double-double, collecting nine rebounds and contributing 12 points in just 25 minutes. Early in the second half, UMBC senior center Brett Roseboro threw down and an alley-oop and landed on Reed, who promptly picked up the ball and pegged Roseboro. The referees handed down technical fouls to both players.

“I didn’t like it. I didn’t like [Reed's] response,” Dempsey said. “I thought the kid taunted and I didn’t like that, but I think you have to handle it better.”

UMBC freshman guard Rodney Elliott, though only one of five Retrievers to score in double digits, came close to a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and a game-high eight assists. Only Roseboro managed more rebounds than Elliott, with 12 in 25 minutes. Roseboro also contributed 14 points.

With their win, UMBC dispelled a shadow of 15 road losses that lingered from last season. Binghamton also set a record—its sixth straight loss is a season-high. But for the team, it’s qualitative, not quantitative.

“I don’t think that makes a difference,” Dempsey said. “The one thing people look at from a media standpoint or from the outside, they look at streaks and different things. We really just care about the last game or the next game.”

At least now, halfway through their AE slate, the Bearcats should be better able to gauge their opponents.

“We’ve played every single team in our conference, so now we know what to expect,” Madray said. “We’re going to watch a lot of film, we’re going to get with assistant coaches, put in extra time with that, and then we’ll capitalize on our weaknesses.”

The Bearcats have until Saturday to address their weaknesses from when they last played UMass Lowell and dropped the match, 71-59. The AE’s newest member currently stands in fifth. The River Hawks (5-14, 4-4 AE) will have had a week of recovery from their 61-32 loss to UNH before hosting the Bearcats.

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Costello Athletic Center in Lowell, Mass.