Coming off their first victory of the season against UMBC last Sunday, the Binghamton men’s basketball team was looking to keep its momentum against Hartford. Although the Bearcats suffered a sizable 76-56 loss in Saturday’s matchup, the Bearcats were just a couple of possessions away from winning the rematch on Sunday.
With the score tied at 74-74 and 14.2 seconds remaining on the game clock, the Bearcats (1-8, 1-5 America East) had an opportunity to win the game. After calling a timeout, Binghamton shifted the ball into the hands of sophomore guard Dan Petcash, who drove in and made an open layup to take the lead. However, he was called for an offensive foul for extending his right arm on the defender, giving the Hawks (7-4, 4-2 AE) the final possession of the game. The call was controversial and visibly frustrated the Bearcats on the sidelines.
Hartford inbounded the ball with 3.4 seconds on the clock, and redshirt junior guard Austin Williams drained the game-winning 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 74-77 with 0.5 seconds remaining.
The Bearcats (1-8, 1-5 AE) started Sunday’s game on a hot streak, taking a commanding 28-14 lead at the 11-minute mark in the first half. During this stretch of play, the Bearcats shot nearly perfect from the field and did not miss their first shots until just under 12 minutes remained in the game. Sophomore guard Tyler Bertram fueled the run, scoring 10 points within the first eight minutes of play. From that point forward, the Hawks responded by going on a 27-16 run to close the half, with Binghamton taking a 45-41 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second half, the Hawks fought back and captured their first lead of the game just over five minutes into the half, taking a 52-51 lead. The teams exchanged leads throughout the remainder of the game, leading into the controversial foul and Williams’ game-winner in the final moments of Binghamton’s 77-74 loss.
“[Binghamton was] probably the hardest team I’ve played in a long time and with the exception of Vermont, one of the hardest teams to prepare for,” said Hartford head coach John Gallagher. “I tip my hat off to Binghamton. They basically deserved to win in my opinion. We just made a shot at the end.”
The Bearcats converted on 17-24 field goal attempts in the first half, and were 8-11 from beyond the arc. In the second half, the team shot under 50 percent, and only made one 3-pointer in five attempts.
Bertram picked up a season-high of 19 points against the Hawks, only having been outscored by sophomore guard Brenton Mills, who finished the matchup with 21 points. Petcash contributed eight points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Prior to Sunday’s drama, the Bearcats got off to a rough start in Saturday’s matchup as they found themselves down 7-0 within the first five minutes of action. Throughout the first half, the Hawks extended their lead against the Bearcats up to 18 points, ultimately taking a 39-26 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We were chasing them from behind all night. It wasn’t a great performance from us but they had a lot to do with it. We are going to have to guard them better.”
The Bearcats opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Bertram, but the Hawks pulled away, shooting 65 percent from the field in the second half and ultimately defeating the Bearcats 76-56.
“They had good rhythm and timing on offense,” Dempsey said. “We weren’t able to guard them like we needed to. They shot the ball well from the field. They drove us, we didn’t keep our chests in front of it well enough.”
For the Bearcats, Bertram was the leading scorer, pouring in 16 points, and sophomore guard Bryce Beamer contributed nine points and nine rebounds.
After losing the series to the Hawks over the weekend, the Bearcats will host the University of Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 9 and Sunday, Jan. 10. Tipoff for the first matchup is set for 2 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.