The Binghamton men’s basketball team took on the University of Vermont on the road on Saturday afternoon, the toughest America East (AE) competition the Bearcats will face all season. The league’s leading team won decisively, beating the Bearcats (8-17, 2-10 AE), 76-48.
The loss marks the sixth straight defeat suffered by head coach Tommy Dempsey’s team.
“It was a fun game today in front of a sold-out crowd,” said Vermont head coach John Becker per uvmathletics.com. “We did a good job controlling the game in the first half, but played much sharper in the second. We took care of the ball today and generated a lot of good shots.”
Vermont’s defense shined throughout the contest, holding the Bearcats to just 19-for-57, or 33 percent, from the field. The Bearcats only made four 3-pointers on 21 attempts and converted just six of their 11 shots from the free-throw line. Three BU players reached double figures in the game, but none reached 15 points. Seven total players got on the score sheet for the Bearcats.
Vermont (21-6, 11-1 AE), on the other hand, had two players reach nearly 20 points. Senior forward Anthony Lamb led all scorers with 19 points, also collecting eight rebounds. Junior guard Stef Smith was not far behind with 18 points, hitting 70 percent of his field goals. Vermont outscored BU 26-7 in bench points, with 10 total Catamounts scoring points.
The teams traded baskets early on, but a few minutes into the first half, the Catamounts began pulling away. An 11-2 run by BU allowed the team to close the gap just a little, bringing the score within six points of the home team with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period. It was here, however, that Vermont rallied its offense, scoring the final seven points of the half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer from junior forward Bailey Patella, who had 10 rebounds on the day.
Following the break, the Bearcats were able to score two baskets. The first came inside from senior forward Pierre Sarr and the next was a jump shot from freshman forward George Tinsley. Immediately following those buckets, however, a foul charged to freshman guard Dan Petcash gave the Catamounts a chance at the stripe, beginning a run that would ultimately prove to be decisive. Vermont began to score inside and out, scoring 15 to the Bearcats’ three in a five-minute span to eliminate the chance of BU making a comeback.
Binghamton was led in scoring by sophomore guard Sam Sessoms, who put up 13 points. The young player also collected seven rebounds and six assists. Sarr and Tinsley added to the tally, scoring 10 points each. Those three players hit all but five of BU’s 19 field goals in the game, and scored all but 15 of the Bearcats’ points.
With the loss, the Bearcats remain in last place in the AE with four conference games remaining. BU is a game behind Maine in the AE standings, and the Black Bears (7-19, 3-9 AE) own the tiebreaker with BU because of their sweep of the season series between the two teams. Because of this, BU will need to win at least two of its four remaining contests to have any chance of reaching the AE Tournament in March.
After their tough road contest, the Bearcats will return to their home court for two straight games. The team’s next contest will be against UMass Lowell on Thursday, Feb. 20. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.