Despite leading by two at halftime and going up nine for the start of the second half, the Binghamton men’s basketball team fell to New Hampshire at home on Saturday afternoon in a closely contested match. The Bearcats (8-12, 2-5 America East) battled back and forth with the Wildcats (10-9, 3-3 AE) up until the final minutes, with four lead changes and six ties in the game, but New Hampshire capitalized on a pair of missed shots from Binghamton down the stretch to pull away and win 77-69.
“It was disappointing not getting it done on our home court today,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We knew it was going to be a battle, so it wasn’t surprising by any stretch that it was a two-point game at the half. We weren’t able to get enough stops in some crucial one-on-one battles in the last few minutes.”
The Wildcats shot an impressive 52.6 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from deep. Leading the team in scoring for New Hampshire was junior guard Josh Hopkins, who scored 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He stepped up in the absence of the Wildcats’ leading scorer, sophomore forward Nick Guadarrama, who had the flu and did not travel to Binghamton with the team.
Sophomore guard Sam Sessoms scored a game-high 28 points for the Bearcats and racked up seven assists and four rebounds. Freshman forward George Tinsley was next in scoring for Binghamton with 13 points and eight rebounds. Binghamton also shot a respectable 11-for-32 from 3-point range, but were much less efficient in the second half, in which they shot only 5-for-18 from downtown.
Binghamton and New Hampshire were neck and neck for the entire first half, with the Bearcats taking a two-point margin into the locker room. BU hit the ground running in the second half, leading 39-30 only three minutes into the period. However, their shots soon began to miss, and New Hampshire was able to score key baskets during these opportunities, marking the turning point of the game as the Bearcats’ lead slowly vanished.
By the 10-minute mark, the Wildcats took the lead. During the final minutes, Binghamton’s defense was beginning to dwindle and did not have an answer for the Wildcat offense. A critical jumper by sophomore guard Marque Maultsby put the Wildcats up by five with just over a minute left and ultimately sealed the 77-69 victory for New Hampshire.
The loss for Binghamton came off a major road win earlier this week against Stony Brook, who now sits tied for second in the AE. This was the first meeting between the two teams since Binghamton’s upset win over the Seawolves in last year’s AE Tournament, and BU managed to pull off the road upset yet again.
“That win felt really good,” Tinsley said. “But we had to move on from that and bring the energy we had from that game and we really didn’t. Our one-on-one defense was not there tonight [against UNH].”
Although the New Hampshire loss was a tough one for Binghamton, especially with the momentum coming into the game after defeating Stony Brook (13-8, 4-2 AE), there are still nine AE conference games to play in the season.
“We put ourselves in too many help-and-rotation situations tonight,” Dempsey said. “It’s a long season and we just have to keep battling. Practice is really important — you get back to work and get ready for the next one. There are highs and lows. We had a high on Wednesday and a low tonight. Now we get back and ready for next Wednesday. You gotta be resilient.”
The Bearcats will hit the road this Wednesday, Jan. 29 to take on the Hartford Hawks. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Chase Arena in West Hartford, Connecticut.