On Sunday, the Binghamton men’s basketball team took on Sacred Heart in its first game away from home this season. The Bearcats came away with a 72-60 victory, the first win in interim head coach Levell Sanders’ tenure with Binghamton.
“It was a great team win,” Sanders said. “After the loss we had against Cornell, the guys were motivated and wanted to come out and play well.”
The Bearcats (1-1) got off to a slow start to the game and trailed for most of the first half by as many as nine points. Despite this, they still came out of the half with a lead of 33-28 due to a 14-0 run during the last 5½ minutes of the half.
“In the last four minutes before the start of the second half, we had 11 stops in a row,” Sanders said. “The defense was working well, and we didn’t allow them to score.”
Despite not shooting a single free throw in the first half, the Bearcats’ defensive efforts during that run provided opportunities to gain the lead. They caused eight missed field goals by the Pioneers (1-2) during that span and forced one turnover along with a blocked layup by junior guard Jacob Falko. In the first, Sacred Heart shot only 36 percent from the field, converting nine of 25 chances.
BU’s defensive prowess continued into the second half where it was able to maintain its lead for the majority of the game. Binghamton grabbed 29 total rebounds in the game and forced 14 turnovers as well. The Bearcats held the Pioneers to 38 percent shooting from the field (19-50) and 26.3 percent from the three-point line (5-19) for the game.
“We didn’t want to give up easy baskets,” Sanders said. “Against Cornell, we gave up too many easy baskets.”
Offensively, the Bearcats played an efficient game, shooting 51.8 percent from the field (29-56) and 50 percent from the three-point line (10-20). Their scoring leaders were sophomore guard Kellen Amos who scored 26 points and sophomore guard John McGriff who added 15 points.
“If you look at the stat sheet, most of the scoring was done by two guys,” Sanders said. “But as a team, guys made plays when they needed to.”
Prior to Sunday, Amos’ career high in points was seven, but against the Pioneers, he nearly quadrupled that tally. He shot 10-13 from the field and made five of his eight three-point attempts during the game. He also made his presence known through other aspects of the game by dishing out three assists. On the defensive end, he added a steal and block, each in the second half.
“[Amos] is a really talented kid, he could be a wild card for us because of his size,” Sanders said. “At [6 feet, 7 inches tall], he has the skills of a point guard, he can shoot the ball, he can defend and he can do so many things well for us.”
At the 13-minute mark, Sacred Heart took a one-point lead. The Bearcats followed that up with a 28-6 run to take their largest lead of the season at 21 points. In the last five minutes, the Pioneers posted a miniature comeback, decreasing BU’s margin to 11 at one point. However, it was not enough, as Binghamton’s all-around team effort on the defensive end, paired with the scoring of Amos and McGriff, allowed them to get by with a 12-point win and earn their first win of the season.
The Bearcats are next set to play Columbia University on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium in New York, New York.