On Saturday afternoon, the Binghamton men’s basketball team suffered its second loss of the season at home against Sacred Heart. Despite a hot start to the first half, BU struggled to get things going offensively and failed to get defensive stops in crucial moments. At the sound of the final buzzer, it was SHU that ended up on top, defeating the hosts 75-60.
“I thought we had some opportunities to shoot some open shots that we didn’t take,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “Then we started dribbling it and tried to drive into a crowd, which made our offense stagnant.”
Both BU (2-2) and SHU (3-2) came into the game looking to get back into the win column — as both teams were defeated in their previous matchups. The Bearcats never found their groove on offense, shooting 39 percent from the field and just 4-20 from beyond the arc. Despite struggling on offense in the first half, the Pioneers turned things around in the second, shooting 48.6 percent from the field while draining five three-pointers.
“We built a little lead but then our offense got stagnant,” Sanders said. “We couldn’t get the ball inside because they were fronting us. We didn’t get guys flashing in from the opposite side, which we’ve been doing all season.”
Despite their struggles, the Bearcats began the game on a 12-1 run as the Pioneers didn’t score their first field goal until six minutes had ticked off the clock. BU distributed the ball early on as its ball movement led to early baskets from junior guard John McGriff and graduate student guard Christian Hinckson. SHU soon picked up the pace, however, going on a 17-7 run and knotting things up at 19 nearing the end of the half.
Binghamton responded as graduate student forward Miles Gibson knocked down a three-pointer, giving the Bearcats the lead — which was extended with a layup on the next possession. The home team’s defensive woes continued, however, as the Pioneers ended the half on a 10-0 run to lead 29-24 at the break.
“We’ve got to get better offensively,” Sanders said. “That’s sharing the ball, taking better shots … We’ve got to offensive rebound a little more when our shots aren’t going in. We couldn’t score and that’s kind of been the theme for us … [In the] half court we’ve been struggling to score.”
The Bearcats found themselves down five at the break as they struggled after surrendering their early lead to SHU. BU shot 34.6 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three in the half, and had 13 turnovers that led to 13 points for SHU.
“I didn’t think we were bad defensively, [SHU] only scored 29 points in the first half, but we only had 25,” Sanders said. “If you turn the ball over 13 times in the first half, that’s 13 times you don’t even get to shoot the ball.”
SHU built on its first-half momentum, drilling a three-pointer to get the second-half scoring started. The Pioneers would go on a 10-2 outburst to start the period as BU’s defense allowed three three-pointers to start the half. Just before the 10-minute mark, Sacred Heart took a 22-point lead, its largest of the game. The Bearcats attempted a late comeback with back-to-back lobs to senior guard Jacob Falko and eventually cut their deficit to 11, courtesy of a fast-break layup by sophomore guard Matt Solomon. However, BU’s window of opportunity began to close as the clock winded down and the Pioneers still held the lead.
“We were trying to get [Falko and McGriff] to rebound and push the ball in transition to get those open opportunities because it seemed like that was our best offense when we got it out and ran,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to get those guys to force [the] tempo … Create opportunities for themselves, but also create opportunities for their teammates.”
Despite containing SHU’s junior guard Nico Galette early on in the first half, the Bearcats struggled to tighten their defense on him in the second. Galette propelled the Pioneer offense with 26 points and nine rebounds while shooting 9-18 from the field and 4-7 from beyond the arc.
“I thought [Hinckson] did a good job on [Galette] early on,” Sanders said. “But with a good offensive player like that … he was making some tough shots … and once again when you give a guy an opportunity to see the ball go into the basket, they become more confident — and that’s what we didn’t want this team to do.”
BU will host Columbia at home in its next matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Dr. Bai Lee court in Vestal, New York.