After defeating Bryant at home last weekend, the Binghamton men’s basketball team traveled to UMBC looking to keep itself near the top of the America East (AE) standings. Despite the Bearcats outscoring the Retrievers in the second half, the deficit they faced early on was too great to recover from, as they lost 69-55.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “Offensively we were stagnant, getting back to guys holding the ball [and] not really creating anything … In the second half, defensively we were better. We didn’t give up as many easy threes, we made it a lot tougher for [UMBC] and we were able to get ourselves back in the game.”
Senior guard Dan Petcash got the scoring started for BU (9-13, 5-4 AE) in the first half with a jumper and then a layup a few possessions later, giving the visitors a 6-2 advantage. UMBC (15-9, 5-4 AE), however, responded quickly with a 7-2 run to take its first lead of the game. The Bearcats stalled on offense for a few possessions before graduate student forward Miles Gibson connected on a 3-point shot to even the score at 13. Both teams began trading baskets as they approached the halfway point of the first half.
Once the game was past the 10-minute mark, the hosts began to pull away as they went up 30-18 with just over seven minutes left in the half. Junior guard John McGriff ended the scoring drought after making a step-back mid-range jumper. However, for the remainder of the half, the Retrievers continued to pull away, leading by as much as 19 points. Despite the deficit, Binghamton attempted to close the gap with a quick 8-4 run in the final two and a half minutes to enter halftime down 43-28.
“In the first half, I thought we settled for too many jump shots,” Sanders said. “We need to be able to score inside and score in the paint, but then again we were settling, and I didn’t think we did a good job of breaking down the defense.”
BU opened up the second half with a dunk by Gibson. However, the hosts prevented any momentum from being built by the Bearcats and went up 20 less than three minutes in. After going down yet again, the visitors cashed in a quick 11-0 run to cut the lead to single digits. Binghamton eventually cut it to eight but had their run halted by a Retriever 3-pointer.
“When you put yourself down by so much, you almost have to play perfect,” Sanders said. “We would get stops, but then we got to be perfect and any little thing that you do or don’t do, it really hurts you. So we can’t dig ourselves into a hole where we put ourselves in that position where we have to play perfect … When you go down, you can’t afford to have those mistakes and unfortunately we did.”
Despite the Bearcats’ efforts to come back, UMBC was resilient in not allowing them to get too close. In the second half, Binghamton outscored the Retrievers 27-26 and shot 40 percent from the field compared to the host’s 34.5 percent. The deficit, however, was too immense as the visitors dropped the matchup 69-55.
“We need to play together on both sides, offensively and defensively,” Sanders said. “We can’t be satisfied. I think a lot of times when we win a game, we become satisfied that we won and are happy that we won. I think we lose a little bit of that hunger … When we win, we gotta be ready to come in and work as if we lost, and I think that’s the mindset we need to have for the rest of the year.”
Junior guard Armon Harried led all Bearcats with 17 points. He also added 10 rebounds and six assists, along with three blocks. Gibson was the next-highest scorer with 15 points and also made the team’s only three-pointer of the game.
“I thought [Harried] played a well-rounded game,” Sanders said. “He’s not gonna score 17 points every night, but he can rebound and he can get assists, and if he can defend the way he defended every night. So he definitely had a nice game.”
BU will wrap up its two-game road trip against UNH on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, New Hampshire.