In front of an enthusiastic Events Center crowd, the Binghamton men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to three games by downing the Army Black Knights, 88-73. The Bearcats (3-3) put forth their best offensive performance of the season, blitzing the Black Knights (2-3) with 88 points on 53.2-percent shooting to seal the win.
“I thought it was a really complete effort from our group,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We had five guys in double figures, and I think that’s a good formula for us. When we’re sharing the offense, we’re tough to guard. We have a lot of guys that naturally put the ball in the basket, and we have the court spread, the ball’s moving and we become tougher to guard through this early portion of the season.”
Five BU players scored 13 points or more in the contest, with two of them, sophomore guard Sam Sessoms and senior forward Pierre Sarr, leading the Bearcats in scoring on the day with 16 points apiece. Sarr also secured his first double-double of the season, leading the team with 13 rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive glass.
While the team received important contributions from its starters, its bench was also able to step up and continue the Bearcats’ offensive push in the game, especially when Sessoms and Sarr had to spend some time on the bench in the second half because of foul trouble. Both sophomore center Yarden Willis and freshman guard Dan Petcash were among the double-digit scorers, with Petcash hitting three 3-pointers in the contest, the most on the team.
“We outscored them 28-5 off the bench — I think that’s a big stat, and we out-rebounded them by 19,” Dempsey said. “When you do that, you’re gonna be in a pretty good position to win.”
The game was a tight one for most of the first half, with neither team able to take a lead of more than five points until under the four-minute mark. The bulk of the Bearcats’ offense in the opening half came on 3-pointers, with 20 of the team’s 32 first-half field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. The Bearcats made seven 3-pointers in the first half, with five of them coming from Petcash and freshman guard Brenton Mills. It was Petcash’s 3-pointers that allowed BU to finally pull away from Army in the closing minutes of the first.
BU extended its lead to as many as 18 points in the second half, but Army made a strong push in the middle stages of the second led by senior guard Tommy Funk. Funk scored 18 of his 20 points in the latter half, powering a run that saw the Black Knights cut the BU lead to seven. Nevertheless, Sessoms, who had a slow game for the first 30 minutes, was able to respond, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the final eight minutes of the game to restore Binghamton’s double-digit lead and help the team end the game comfortably.
“I started being more aggressive,” Sessoms said. “I saw Funk had a nice rhythm going, and the momentum was shifting toward them. I felt like it was my job to start being more aggressive, regardless of my field-goal percentage in the first 30 minutes of the game … Shots began to fall, and things went my way.”
After losing the first three games of their season, BU responded with three straight wins to even its record at .500. Though the team has looked resilient in its recent stretch of games, Dempsey stressed that there still is room to grow.
“I think the team’s been through a lot, and I think that helps accelerate your togetherness, so to speak,” Dempsey said. “The on-court stuff was what I was more concerned would take some time, and we still are a work in progress … I think we have another gear that we’re still a month away from, but certainly we’re playing good basketball over the last few games.”
BU next takes to the court on Tuesday, Nov. 26 for a home game against Division III Oneonta. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.