As the clock was ticking down in the first half, senior guard Timmy Rose stepped back and drilled a three from the corner, just beating the buzzer, and the Binghamton men’s basketball team took a 44-28 lead into the locker room at halftime. A 4-0 start to the second half gave the Bearcats a 48-28 margin, but it would not hold. A 32-10 run gave Morgan State a 60-58 edge, a lead that held for the remainder of the game. The Bearcats (3-6) could not regain the lead, falling 74-68 to the Bears (3-5).
“They just turned us over in the second half and it just snowballed on us,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We couldn’t pull ourselves out of it, we missed some crucial free throws. But more than anything, we just weren’t able to execute. They didn’t allow us to execute. They started running and trapping us all over, and we weren’t strong enough with the ball in the second half to take care of it and maintain that lead.”
It was a bitter ending to a game that started so prominently for the Bearcats. BU was outscored 46-24 in the second 20 minutes, struggling mightily on both sides of the ball. After shooting over 50 percent on 3-pointers in the first half, the team was just 2-11 in the second, with both being hit by freshman guard Sam Sessoms in the final two minutes.
“The first half it was moderate,” Dempsey said. “The second half [Morgan State] got down and said we’re going to run and jump and double team the ball. It was really the first time for a lot of our guys seeing that kind of pressure and that kind of run and jump defense. We didn’t handle it well. They got into a good rhythm as a result of it, and they played a great second half.”
Foul trouble plagued the Bearcats for the entirety of the second half. With 3:29 remaining in the game, graduate student forward Chancellor Barnard fouled out, and just over 30 seconds later, freshman forward Calistus Anyichie did the same. Both were on and off of the court throughout the entirety of the period.
“We played the whole second half in foul trouble,” Dempsey said. “And that didn’t help because it hurt us on the glass and in the interior on the zones in the second half where I thought they got quite a few second chance points, being 21-7 on second chance points, and there were able to score easier in the paint as we had some of our bigger guys in and out with foul trouble.”
Sessoms once again led the Bearcats in scoring with 22 points. Graduate student guard J.C. Show pitched in 19 points and eight rebounds. For Morgan State, freshman guard Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr. and redshirt junior forward Jordan Little both led the Bears with 14 points each.
Last season, Binghamton and Morgan State kicked off their seasons with a matchup against each other in the Events Center. BU prevailed in a dominant 76-59 victory, with four Bearcats finishing the game in double-digit point totals.
The Bearcats are now more than halfway through their nonconference season, and they sit below .500, with only one win against a Division I opponent and no road victories. This year’s nonconference slate has been tougher than previous seasons, but the struggles against their opponents thus far have to be objectively concerning for Dempsey’s squad. With the contests only getting tougher, the team must improve itself in order to better prepare for the conference season, which sits just a month away.
This Saturday, the Bearcats will return home for their next game against Loyola Maryland. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.