A failed mathematician may have come to the conclusion on the basis of the transitive property that if the Binghamton men’s basketball team defeated the now-famed UMBC Retrievers, then it would have also downed the University of Virginia Cavaliers. Unfortunately for both the hypothetical mathematician and the Bearcats (7-19, 3-8 America East), the team fell to the Retrievers 64-50 at the Events Center.
Although a matchup with the reigning conference champion and most storied tournament team from last season may have created a tremendous amount of hype, UMBC (16-10, 8-3 AE) is certainly a different team than last year. The Retrievers graduated its top two scorers from last year in Jairus Lyles (20.2 points per game) and K.J. Maura (11.3 points per game).
“That was awesome for them, but this is a different team, a different year. We didn’t speak of that at all,” BU head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “I think it’s a team that’s built off that performance, and built off their year last year. So they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
Even though the final differential stood at 14, BU remained competitive for nearly the entire contest. Freshman guard Sam Sessoms and graduate student guard J.C. Show were principally to credit for Binghamton’s ability to stay in the game. The one-two punch combined for 43 of Binghamton’s 50 points, with Sessoms owning 23 and Show posting 20.
“My teammates were finding me in rhythm and in great spots to shoot the basketball,” Show said. “All credit goes to them and I’m going to keep working and hopefully help the team out by shooting better down the stretch here.”
While Show and Sessoms accounted for 86 percent of Binghamton’s scoring, the other 14 percent came from senior forward Caleb Stewart and senior guard Timmy Rose. Stewart struggled mightily from the field, failing to convert all 10 of his field goals.
For almost the majority of the contest, only three BU players registered points. Aside from Rose’s shot-clock buzzer-beating deep 2-point field goal, a free throw and a layup, just Sessoms and Show were on the board with five minutes remaining in the second half. It was not until Stewart was fouled and sent to the line at 4:27 did a fourth Bearcat log a point.
“We didn’t get Caleb going tonight; he’s been really scoring the ball for us,” Dempsey said. “They did a great job on him tonight. He had a tough matchup. The way they came out and played Caleb so hard and didn’t give him a lot of room. They have some long athletic defenders that are able to do that.”
In comparison to the lack of BU offensive production, the Retrievers had no trouble picking apart Binghamton’s 2-3 zone. Four UMBC players reached double-digit scoring as the team repeatedly found the open man. The Retrievers made their ranking among the top three in the conference in assists per game evident today as they rallied for 18.
“I thought they made some crucial shots, and that’s what good teams do,” Dempsey said. “They made some big ones for sure. Some dagger threes and that. But it was really a product of the 50 points that we scored. That’s not enough to win in Division I college basketball, and we have to get better offensively over the next few weeks before we got to the conference tournament.”
With five regular season games remaining, the Bearcats will next look to get back on track with a matchup against UMass Lowell. Binghamton has a week-long break before it takes on the River Hawks (14-12, 6-5 AE).
Tipoff against UMass Lowell is set for Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. from the Costello Athletic Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.