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Shooting woes lead to men’s basketball’s demise against Albany

An inauspicious start portended a woeful shooting performance for the Binghamton men’s basketball team in its 57-48 loss to Albany tonight at the Events Center.

The Bearcats (6-20, 3-10 America East), whose two-game winning streak expired with the defeat, converted just one of their first 11 field-goal attempts and then scored just four points in the final 12:20 of the game. They finished the tilt at 32.7 percent from the floor, the loss mathematically precluding them from a conference tournament seeding higher than No. 5.

“Shots weren’t going in,” said sophomore guard Jordan Reed, who posted game-highs of 13 points and 16 rebounds. “The coaches told us they would go in, but unfortunately … a lot of the shots we took just didn’t go in for us.”

Albany (14-13, 8-6 AE) could have opened the floodgates in the first half, when it shot 57.9 percent to Binghamton’s 31.3 percent. But the Bearcats forced 11 turnovers and used an 8-2 run to enter the locker room down, 31-27.

“I was hoping we would be able to carry [the run] over to the second half, and we did that,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey, who has not won three consecutive games since taking over at Binghamton. “Our best basketball was played in the end of the first and early in the second half, and we weren’t able to sustain it.”

That string of success was largely due to senior guard Rayner Moquete stepping in after six scoreless first-half minutes to bury three treys by the 14:33 mark of the second frame, dealing Binghamton a 41-40 lead and catching the Great Danes and head coach Will Brown off guard. Moquete finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

“[I] didn’t expect Moquete to come out and light it up early in the second half, and I think that gave them some momentum,” Brown said. “But I think we settled down and felt we did a really good job defensively in the halfcourt of not letting the two little guards get in the lane.”

Those little guards — freshmen Yosef Yacob and Marlon Beck II — combined for 16 points and seven turnovers. They went 6 for 23, 14 of those attempts coming from long range as Albany focused on preventing penetration.

With Yacob and Beck struggling against aggressive baseline traps and the length of Albany’s zone, the Bearcats went 2 for 15 with nine turnovers in the final 12:20 of the game. A 44-43 lead devolved quickly into an insurmountable deficit.

“They were big,” Yacob said, “so it was hard to really look over [the zone], get clean shots off. The ones we did get off weren’t going in.”

Seeing his teammates’ attempts constantly clank off the rim, Reed tried taking over with his strength and athleticism. But his aggressiveness ultimately hindered Binghamton’s comeback, as he committed two offensive fouls and four other turnovers in the Bearcats’ cold spell down the stretch.

He finished with seven turnovers plastered next to his name in the box score, and he interjected a postgame question about offensive miscues to express his accountability.

“Jordan Reed had seven [turnovers],” Reed said. “I had a couple of charges, but I remember countless times where … I was in the air a lot and passing the ball, doing skip passes.”

Albany’s 2-3 zone also prevented Reed from wreaking havoc on the offensive glass, as it relegated the 6-foot-4 bull to the perimeter. Reed grabbed four offensive rebounds — and the Great Danes held just a six-board advantage on the glass after a 38-24 beat-down in the teams’ meeting on Jan. 20 — but Brown said he felt satisfied.

“I don’t get caught up in the amount of defensive rebounds Jordan Reed gets,” Brown said. “I get concerned with two things when we play him: how many offensive rebounds does he get and how many trips to the free-throw line does he get.”

Reed went to the stripe just once, and Binghamton converted four of its five free-throw attempts. Without drawing enough shooting fouls, the Bearcats couldn’t test the age-old basketball theory that free throws helps shooters find their rhythm.

It was just one of those nights for Binghamton, where the rim rejected seemingly each shot as if it were a student with a 600 SAT score. Brown surprised Dempsey by playing almost exclusively zone for the first time this season, and Binghamton could not respond.

“When [shots] are not going in, there’s no reason to get out of the zone,” Dempsey said, “and we didn’t give them enough of a reason to get out of the zone.”