Powered by a balanced collection of scorers, Binghamton earned its first victory of the season on Tuesday night with a 107-64 home victory over Misericordia University. Freshman guard Sam Sessoms led the Bearcats (1-2) with 50-50 balls across the floor and aggressive drives to the basket. Sessoms finished the night with 18 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting, along with five rebounds and four assists.
Both teams were tenacious on the floor, as scrappy play on loose balls was seen throughout the game. Misericordia played especially aggressive, fouling 20 times over the course of the match.
“I think we attacked and put pressure on the defense,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We had some guys that were tough to stay in front and [Misericordia] was using armbars to try and stay with our players here and there.”
Sessoms joined with graduate student guard J.C. Show and senior guard Timmy Rose to form a dangerous backcourt throughout the game. Rose, who finished with two points and nine assists, was able to find driving lanes all game long and dish to a big or a kick out to a guard.
“[Rose] is a veteran as a senior, so he has a lot of experience, and from the outside looking in, I can see how he puts teammates first and is just a great leader,” Sessoms said. “I’m more of a scoring point guard, and he’s the polar opposite, and I see how I can benefit from taking parts of his game just like how he could benefit from taking parts of mine, but overall he’s just a great leader and a great person to have in your corner.”
The Bearcats received contributions from nearly everyone on the roster, with six players reaching double digits in points. With 48 points in the paint, they were able to keep the Misericordia defense on its heels, particularly in the second half when Binghamton scored 26 points in the paint.
Sophomore guard Tyler Stewart, who had been injured for the first two games, played for 12 minutes on Tuesday night. Although he had limited minutes, Stewart looked promising with two three-pointers and six rebounds.
“His minutes were good, he just has to get the rust off,” Dempsey said. “But he was able to make his two threes and gave us six rebounds in only 12 minutes, and rebounding the ball is an issue for us right now, and to get another guy with length and good instincts out there, he’s another guy who stretches the floor for us. He missed some time and he’s been out for a while so I think it’s hard to get in a rhythm, but to be able [to] come in and knock in his threes was great.”
Collectively, BU was able to consistently get good looks thanks to its quick ball movement. With 21 assists and steady shooting, the Bearcats maintained a 54 percent mark from deep and 58 percent overall. Show was lethal, as all 12 of his points came on a 4-of-7 shooting performance from behind the arc. All double-digit scorers for the Bearcats were able to maintain at least 50 percent shooting from the field.
On the defensive end, Binghamton fluctuated between a man-to-man defense and a two-three zone. The alternation threw Misericordia off in the second half, as it shot a subpar 24 percent field goal percentage in the game’s final 20 minutes. The zone defense allowed Dempsey’s squad to get out in transition and score in unsettled situations.
Tuesday’s win was a relatively promising showcase of what the team is capable of, despite the fact that Misericordia is a Division III college.
“Winning at any point in college feels good, doesn’t matter who it’s against,” said graduate student forward Chancellor Barnard. “We worked hard for a while now, so it feels good to get this win under our belt.”
Following Tuesday’s victory, the Binghamton athletics department announced that Dempsey was given a two-year contract extension. The move dispelled any concern that Dempsey’s job was on the line this season, and the team can continue its progress this season without the looming threat of uncertainty at the head coaching position.
The Bearcats look to notch a second consecutive win against Northwestern University on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN News and will be called by ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” cast, Binghamton alumnus Tony Kornheiser, ‘70, and former Wildcat Michael Wilbon.