Looking to rebound from a close loss against Hartford the week prior, the Binghamton men’s basketball team went head-to-head with Vermont over the weekend on its home court. However, the Bearcats were unable to compete with Vermont’s consistency on the floor, losing twice and suffering their worst defeat to an America East (AE) opponent in over a decade. Binghamton was defeated 76-60 on Saturday prior to an 84-44 thrashing on Sunday afternoon.
“Vermont is such a veteran group,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey. “Their guys have been around for a long time, all their juniors and seniors who have won a lot of games together… they are just kind of a well-oiled machine.”
While Vermont (5-3, 5-3 AE) was picked to finish first in the conference in the AE preseason coaches’ poll, it had only split each of its three series this season after losing its star guard Anthony Lamb to graduation. The Bearcats (1-10, 1-7 AE) looked to take advantage of this, but opened Saturday’s game trailing. They continued to fall behind the consistent Vermont lineup, ending the first half down 44-30.
“We got beat up in the rebounding, which was an issue,” Dempsey said. “We didn’t take care of the ball in the first half and they did. That was what the difference was in the half-time score.”
The second half saw an early run by the Bearcats that brought the game to a 10 point margin with just over seven minutes left to play. However, Binghamton found its form too late in the game and were unable to make up the points to overcome Vermont’s lead. While sophomore guard Brenton Mills and sophomore forward Bryce Beamer put up a combined total of 30 points for the Bearcats, the Catamounts continued to outscore Binghamton up until the final buzzer, winning the game 76-60.
“You have to give Vermont credit, they played really well, especially in the first half,” Dempsey said. “They played close to a perfect half. I thought we showed a lot of fight in the second half, forced some turnovers and tried to get ourselves back in the game.”
Opening Sunday’s game, things quickly began to fall apart for Binghamton. Sophomore forward George Tinsley, the reigning AE rookie of the year and the Bearcats’ leading rebounder this season, was forced off the court after only four minutes due to injury. After Tinsley’s substitution, the Catamounts began to run away with the game. The Bearcats were far behind Vermont throughout the entire first half and eventually trailed by 21 points at halftime.
In addition to struggling with rebounds and defense, the Bearcats were unable to find consistent offensive production. Beamer and sophomore guard Tyler Bertram both scored eight points individually while junior center Yarden Willis went six-for-six at the free throw line. Compared to the Catamounts, who connected on 50 percent of their 3-point attempts in the second half, the Bearcats went 0-18 from beyond the arc.
Binghamton was unable to counter the away side’s offensive consistency in the 84-44 loss, marking the first time Binghamton has lost by 40 points to an AE opponent since 2009-10, when the Bearcats were defeated 93-51 by Boston University.
“It was certainly a long day for us all the way around,” Dempsey said. “We couldn’t find any rhythm and couldn’t get the ball to go in the basket. It zips your energy when you can’t score and they just got out in front and we were chasing them all day.”
As the Bearcats’ struggles continue, the team lost its top defensive player, senior center Thomas Bruce, who was sidelined due to a concussion.
“[Bruce] is sidelined with concussion symptoms,” Dempsey said. “It’s something that you have to be careful with and he hasn’t been able to keep symptom-free and he can’t return to any level of contact until he is symptom-free.”
Bruce missed the past two seasons due to an unrelated concussion, and it is unknown when he will be able to return to play.
After losing both weekend games against the Catamounts, Binghamton will host UMass Lowell next weekend on Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17. Tipoff for the opening matchup is set for 2 p.m. at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.