Despite a recent trend of solid play, the Binghamton men’s basketball team was unable to capitalize on its momentum Tuesday night, falling to Albany 73-58. The Bearcats (9-22, 5-11 America East) closed out their regular season with a lackluster performance against the Great Danes (12-19, 7-9 AE).
Binghamton entered the game off a dominant victory against Maine, when it scorched the Black Bears from all over, led by a historic performance by graduate student guard J.C. Show. Tuesday’s game was a different story for Show and the Bearcats.
Albany was able to stifle Show with an emphasis on closeouts and denying him the ball at times; he finished only 4-of-12 overall and 2-of-8 from behind the arc. With a potent frontcourt of Albany’s senior forward Devonte Campbell and freshman forward Malachi De Sousa, most of the Bearcats had a tough time finishing around the rim. Combined with Albany’s pressure on BU’s shooters, the offense for the Bearcats was stagnant in the second half, as they recorded a subpar 12-of-29 shooting.
“We’ve been playing so much better than we did tonight, and Albany had a lot to do with it,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “Very good defensively, forced us into a lot of tough shots, and we didn’t shoot it as well as we have been, and I thought we let our lack of ability to go on offensively affect our defensive intensity.”
Albany took over the game on a stretch that began at the end of the first half and continued into the second. The Great Danes’ 22-0 run in that span put them up 46-26 with under 16 minutes left in the game. BU was finally able to end the Great Danes’ run when senior forward Caleb Stewart nailed a jumper at the 15:35 mark for the Bearcats’ first points of the second period.
“The end of the first half, we were a little bit unlucky,” Dempsey said. “We had a two-point lead, and I thought we had a couple of good shots that didn’t go in to close the half, and we led the whole half, and then within a minute and a half, we went from up two to down six. They went on that run to start the second half, so the combination of that really put us in a tough spot. I thought we lost our mojo after they got a couple of pick sixes, and we never really recovered.”
Graduate student forward Chancellor Barnard was the only Bearcat to register above 45 percent on his field goals, scoring 15 points on 83 percent shooting. He showed off his ability to finish in traffic, as he often found himself met at the rim by Albany bigs. Most of his buckets came off feeds from penetrating guards, as Barnard resided on the weak-side block for a good majority of the game.
Binghamton’s guards as a whole had trouble getting anything to fall. Freshman guard Sam Sessoms was forced into tough and contested shots by Albany’s pestering junior guard Ahmad Clark and De Sousa. Sessoms, typically able to shift defenders out of positions for drives to the basket, was unable to shake the quick Clark, who finished with 14 points himself, mainly from his three 3-pointers.
Campbell was able to use his 6’6”, 235-pound frame in the high post against Binghamton’s 2-3 zone and was effective finishing at the rim and drawing fouls. Campbell finished with 14 points.
Binghamton’s reliance on the three players for the previous four games has been at the core of its solid play; in the four contests prior to facing Albany, the Bearcats shot 57-of-118 from deep, good for a 48 percent clip. Their reliance on the three was their downfall against the Great Danes, however, as they only hit 7-of-26.
The Binghamton seniors were hoping to come away with a win in this match, as it would likely be the last time they will suit up in the Events Center.
“It’s hard for me to put into words, to hide my emotions for how much I care about them, and just how much I’ve enjoyed having them here with me,” Dempsey said. “It hasn’t always been easy for any of us, but we’ve always stayed together, and we’ll be close for the rest of our lives, and that’s something that is a lot more important than wins and losses.”
With their regular season now complete, the Bearcats now turn their focus to the AE Tournament. After missing out on last year’s playoffs, the Bearcats enter seeded seventh, set for a quarterfinal matchup against Stony Brook. BU was defeated in both regular-season matchups between the two teams this season.
Tipoff against the Seawolves is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, New York.