On Wednesday night, the Binghamton men’s basketball team hosted UAlbany in an America East (AE) conference matchup. Both teams battled for the full 40 minutes, but the Great Danes found themselves up 68-67 with 46 seconds to go. The Bearcats were handed two opportunities to take the lead but never got a shot off as they fell to their in-state rival.
“I thought Albany came in and played a good game,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “They came in and deserved the win, and they took it on our home court.”
The game started out fast paced with back-and-forth scoring between the Bearcats (10-13, 7-7 AE) and Great Danes (11-15, 7-7 AE). With 11:34 remaining in the first half, the score was tied at 17 apiece. Binghamton converted on all but one of its eight field goal attempts, including one 3-pointer from sophomore guard John McGriff. By the end of the first half, McGriff accumulated 13 points and shot 6-8 from the field.
“In the first half I thought that we made some tough shots, and you don’t continuously make tough shots over and over,” Sanders said. “I told the guys that the ball needs to move.”
Despite shooting well, the Bearcats’ defensive struggles allowed the Great Danes to stay in the game. Binghamton’s efficiency in the first half gave it a 33-29 advantage going into the break despite shooting 60.9 percent compared to UAlbany’s 40 percent.
“We were shooting a great percentage, but I thought it was kind of fool’s gold,” Sanders said. “And I thought we needed to move the ball a little bit more on offense.”
While the Great Danes shot less consistently from the field than the Bearcats, they attempted seven more shots in the first half to give them more opportunities to score.
“[UAlbany] had a few offensive rebounds and also a part of it was some of our turnovers,” Sanders said. “If you give the team that many more possessions than you, they will make you pay for it.”
The second half began similar to the first with both teams hitting shots. Within the first five minutes, Albany was able to take a three-point advantage after a 13-6 run. However, BU was able to knot the game back up at 45 due to back-to-back 3-pointers from junior forward George Tinsley.
“We gotta get better at consistently moving the ball,” Sanders said. “I thought we had one stretch where [junior guard Jacob Falko] drove a couple times and found [Tinsley] for a three and found [junior guard Tyler Bertram] for a three, we gotta get back to that.”
With just over six minutes to go, the Bearcats ran an inbound play that freed Bertram up for a deep 3-pointer. On the next possession, he received a pass from Falko and hit another deep three. This sparked a 9-0 run with eight of those points coming from Bertram.
“I thought offensively [Bertram] was good,” Sanders said. “It’s good to see him get going and knock some shots down. We need [Bertram] to keep playing like that.”
In the final minute of play, the Great Danes came down the floor and hit a 3-point shot to take a one-point lead over BU. Binghamton gave itself a chance to win at the end and called a time-out with 6.2 seconds remaining to draw up a final play. Bertram received the inbound pass and dished it to Falko. Falko then drove from the left wing into the middle of the paint but lost his footing. The Great Danes swarmed Falko on the ground as the clock hit zero.
“We’re not doing the things that we need to do consistently, to be successful and win ball games,” Sanders said. “I just think we need to get better offensively right now.”
The Bearcats return to action against UMass Lowell on Saturday, Feb. 19. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.