As the Binghamton men’s basketball team took on Columbia, sophomore guard Sam Sessoms scored 23 points, putting forth a strong performance for the Bearcats. The team, however, was defeated by the Columbia Lions in a 75-63 loss on Wednesday evening.
The Lions (1-2) found opportunities from all over the floor on offense, especially from downtown, where they shot 44 percent. Freshman guard Jack Forrest was crucial in the second half as Columbia extended its lead over the Bearcats (0-3). Forrest finished 4-for-4 from deep and continued to help widen the lead, ending the game with 14 points.
“We lost Forrest in a couple rotations and he caught fire,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “I thought he was maybe the difference in the second half, give him credit. He came in and blew the game open — he’s an off-the-bench freshman for them and we’re doing everything we can to take away [senior guard Mike] Smith and their inside game, it opened up the game for him and he took advantage of it. I thought he was the biggest difference.”
Smith was also a major factor in Columbia’s win, as he had 19 points to lead the Lions. Smith and Sessoms went back and forth down the stretch, as both attacked well in transition.
“Two really good players, and they’re very similar,” Dempsey said. “They both dominate the ball and put a lot of pressure on the defense.”
Senior guard Richard Caldwell, Jr., who was the Bearcats’ leading scorer through their first two games, struggled offensively despite his strong start. Caldwell was aggressive on both ends of the floor and continued to draw fouls, finishing with eight points, four from free throws.
Binghamton’s defense also struggled throughout the game, leading to timely baskets for the Lions. Against Binghamton’s smaller lineup, Columbia found junior forward Randy Brumant and sophomore forward Ike Nweke inside for finishes.
“Just a couple defensive lapses, I think when you’re in the position we’re in right now offensively, it’s hard for us to get into the 70s right now,” Dempsey said. “We’re just not quite there yet. Therefore, we have to be almost perfect on defense and I thought we had a couple lapses, but we played hard on defense. We had lapses on two handoffs to [senior guard Jake] Killingsworth that hurt us. You have to kind of give up something, not that we want to give up those open threes, but a lot of times we were in rotations and coming out of help, we were a little slow to get to the shooters and he really made us pay.”
The Bearcats struggled from behind the arc, shooting 7-of-23 for the night. Sessoms, known for his off-the-dribble shooting capability, was contested often on his 3-point attempts. The Bearcats found more success penetrating out of their dribble-drive offense, as they converted on 47 percent of their 2-point attempts.
After averaging 17 turnovers over the course of their first two matches, Binghamton still struggled in turnovers against the Lions, turning it over 14 times and giving up nine points off those turnovers.
Freshman forward George Tinsley played all 40 minutes, recording the first double-double of his career. He was strong on the boards with 11 rebounds and contributed 10 points for the Bearcats.
The Bearcats will look to secure their first win of the season in their home opener on Saturday, Nov. 16. Tipoff against Sacred Heart is set for 4 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.