After its record dropped to 0-6 with a loss to UMBC Sunday afternoon, the Binghamton men’s basketball team had struggled to find their stride on the court. However, the team rebounded in its second game against the Retrievers on Monday. The Bearcats earned their first win of the season with a 75-69 victory over UMBC in the rematch, giving Binghamton a victory over one of the best teams in the America East Conference (AE).
“I’m really proud of our kids to be able to get out of here with a win today,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We’ve had so many close games but haven’t been rewarded yet. But we’ve stuck with it. Our guys are playing so hard and sometimes when you don’t see the results it can be very frustrating. But today we were able to get a result and hopefully it’s the first of many.”
The Retrievers, three years removed from their last AE title and their stunning upset of No. 1 Virginia in the NCAA tournament, were picked second in the AE coaches’ poll this season. Binghamton won both games over UMBC last season, and have now won three of the last four meetings.
Binghamton’s win on Monday came after a 74-67 loss the day before to the Retrievers. Both games opened in a similar fashion, with UMBC (7-2, 3-1 AE) holding the lead for most of the first half and the Bearcats trailing close behind before eventually tying the matchup at half-time. Although Binghamton (1-6, 1-3 AE) found a 59-57 lead late in the second half of Sunday’s game thanks to a jumper from junior guard Christian Hinckson, the Retrievers tied the game shortly thereafter and led for the remainder of the game as the Bearcats stumbled to their sixth loss of the season.
“Our [athletes] are playing extremely hard,” Dempsey said after Sunday’s game. “We are giving ourselves a chance to win. It’s a matter of time before we break through and get things going. We will keep grinding and getting better.”
In 39 minutes played, sophomore forward George Tinsley, picked up a double-double on Sunday, earning 14 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Tyler Bertram was second on the team in scoring, with 16 points.
The Bearcats found their breakthrough the following day and picked up an important win in the final minutes of the game. Starting the second half tied 32-32 with UMBC, Binghamton reversed its previous fortunes and led for much of the half. The Bearcats eventually put the game out of reach in the final minutes to give them their first win of the season.
“We finally got our first dub today,” said sophomore guard Brenton Mills. “I feel like everybody came out there and competed very hard. We were all competitive. We were all bought into the game plan. Everybody’s worked hard together and it’s really good to get our first win.”
Mills has led Binghamton in scoring throughout the entire season, and his production was a vital component of Binghamton’s performance over the weekend. The sophomore scored 17 on Sunday, and contributed 22 in the win on Monday. Of Binghamton’s seven games this season, Mills’ has been the team’s top scorer in all but two.
Alongside Mills, sophomore forward Bryce Beamer had the best game of his young Binghamton career on Monday. The junior college transfer from the College of Central Florida scored 20 points and recorded 10 rebounds, earning the first double-double of his career.
Although the Bearcats found good form on the offensive end against the Retrievers, the absence of senior center Thomas Bruce still left a defensive hole in the lineup. The former AE all-defensive team selection remains out with an injury.
Next up for the Bearcats is two games on the road against Hartford next weekend. Tipoff in the first matchup is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2 at the Chase Family Arena in West Hartford, Connecticut.