The Binghamton men’s basketball team hosted Bryant on Saturday afternoon, looking to get back into the win column after losing its previous two games to Maine and Vermont, respectively. After establishing its offensive prowess early and playing shutdown defense for 40 minutes, the Bearcats broke their winless streak, soundly defeating the Bulldogs 84-67 in front of packed stands.
“It was night and day from our last two games,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “We were able to come out today and do all of the things that we spoke about … Guys were able to execute the game plan.”
After Bryant (13-8, 4-4 America East [AE]) won the opening tipoff and quickly scored the first basket of the game, BU (9-12, 5-3 AE) responded immediately, scoring six points in a row, courtesy of baskets from senior guard Jacob Falko and graduate student forward Miles Gibson. The Bearcats built on their hot start as they continued to distribute the ball and score at will. They continued their run on the fast-break when senior guard Dan Petcash lobbed a pass up to senior forward Taveion White for a slam that electrified the crowd of 3,394. Shortly after, Petcash drilled two three-pointers in a row to push Binghamton to a 17-7 lead. The Bulldogs struggled to find their groove on offense and got in foul trouble early with 14 fouls in the first half, giving BU multiple opportunities at the line and helping to cushion its lead.
“We had 11 assists in the first half,” Sanders said. “The one alley-oop [White] caught really energized the crowd.”
Bryant continued to struggle, shooting 13-31 from the field in the first half of play while BU shot 15-26, including 5-10 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs were streaky and unable to stop the Bearcat offense. Following a three-pointer from graduate student guard Christian Hinckson — which made the score 32-14 — Petcash continued his hot shooting with another three-pointer of his own on the next possession. The Bearcats would continue to maintain their lead as they went into halftime leading 49-36.
“[Petcash] had a really good game, not just on the offensive end, but I thought he did a really good job on [Bryant junior guard Earl Timberlake], who’s a little bit bigger than him,” Sanders said. “He rebounded the ball really well … It’s hard to take him out of the game because he does so many things well.”
Falko got the scoring started for Binghamton in the second half after driving down the lane and kissing the ball off the glass and into the basket. Both teams would go back and forth in the half’s opening minutes, with the visitors cutting the Bearcats’ lead to as little as eight points. However, Bryant failed to make a significant dent in the hosts’ lead, with stagnant offense letting BU continue its scoring barrage, leading by as much as 19 points. The Bulldogs made a few baskets but failed to go on any significant runs. Binghamton would cruise for the rest of the half, closing out the game 84-67.
“We’ve got to keep it going,” Sanders said. “I really hope that we can keep the energy going because it was really great.”
As a unit, BU shot an efficient 53.1 percent from the field, while holding Bryant to just a 39.3 percent shooting clip. The Bearcats also tallied 16 assists during the win, compared to the Bulldogs’ seven.
“We had a ton of guys that came in and contributed … that’s what we need,” Sanders said. “I thought defensively we were really good … we did a good job guarding and making it tough for them.”
Four Bearcats finished in double digits, including Petcash, who led all scorers with a season-high 24 points while shooting 5-7 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Additionally, Falko, Gibson and junior guard Armon Harried finished with 17, 15 and 11 points, respectively, in the winning effort.
“We got off to a great start today,” Petcash said. “The emphasis was definitely to share the ball and to make the right play. Sometimes you can get a good shot against them, but you can get an even better shot if you make the extra pass.”
Binghamton will go on the road to face UMBC on Wednesday, Feb. 1 as they pass the halfway point of AE play. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.