On Sunday afternoon, the Binghamton men’s basketball team continued its turbulent start to conference play, dropping a road contest at Maine. Though the Bearcats (7-11, 1-4 America East) stuck with the Black Bears (6-13, 2-3 AE) for the opening few minutes of the game, Maine’s offense proved to be too difficult for the Bearcats to contain. The Black Bears cruised to an 86-63 win, their largest margin of victory since late November.
“It was a good game for us,” said Maine head coach Richard Barron in an interview with ESPN+. “We scored with some efficiency on offense. I thought we had a pretty solid game plan. They’ve got some talented players who can make shots and are hard to guard and contain one on one, and there were times when they either got to the rack or created off the dribble, but for the most part I thought we were disruptive.”
The Bearcats’ showing against the Black Bears continued a recent trend of poor defensive performances for Binghamton. The team has conceded at least 70 points in each of its five AE games this season and has allowed 85 points or more in two of its last three contests. In Sunday’s game, Maine displayed a balanced offense that saw four players reach double figures. Leading the charge for Maine was senior guard Sergio El Darwich, who scored a game-high 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including 4-for-5 from downtown.
Offensively, sophomore guard Sam Sessoms scored 21 points, the most of any Bearcat. Junior guard Jevon Brown, who has seen an increase in his playing time over the past few games, supplied 12 points, his best scoring performance of the season. The Bearcats shot well from beyond the arc as a whole, going 11-for-26, but were sloppy with the basketball at times. The team turned the ball over 13 times, off of which Maine scored 16 points.
“I think we had a nice advantage in terms of turnovers, and that made for more shots for us on the other end,” Barron said. “We were good at turning those turnovers into points, as well as getting out and getting some transition opportunities.”
Binghamton got off to a quick start in the opening minutes, scoring the game’s first five points, but the hot start was short-lived, as the Maine offense found its rhythm. Over the course of an eight-and-a-half-minute stretch, the Black Bears went on a 29-12 run to create an 18-point gap between themselves and Binghamton, powered by strong 3-point shooting from El Darwich.
Binghamton managed to cut the Black Bears’ lead to 13 at halftime, but Maine’s lead did not get any slimmer for the rest of the game. With under nine minutes to play, an El Darwich 3-pointer put the Black Bears’ advantage above 20 points, where it would remain for the remainder of the game.
The Bearcats lost the game by 23 points, their largest margin of defeat since losing by 26 points at Pittsburgh on Dec. 20. The loss puts BU’s losing streak at three games, its longest since dropping the opening three games of the season. The defeat also continues the Bearcats’ struggles on the road, where they have won just one of nine games this season.
Though the team has been struggling in its last few games, 11 AE games remain for the Bearcats to try to right the ship. The next opportunity for Binghamton to turn its fortunes around is a road game against Stony Brook, the current first-place team in the AE.
Tipoff against the Seawolves (13-7, 4-1 AE) is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22 from Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, New York.