On Saturday, the Binghamton men’s basketball team entered its second meeting with UMass Lowell this year — as the teams closed out their regular season battles in Massachusetts. Before the game, the Bearcats held sole possession of second place in the America East (AE) standings, with the River Hawks right behind them at the third seed. A win for the hosts would allow them to leapfrog past BU in the standings, as both teams fight for the top seed along with Vermont. UMass Lowell controlled the score for most of the game and pulled away late as Binghamton fell to its conference foes 84-70.
“[UMass Lowell] capitalized on our mistakes,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “I didn’t think they played any type of super aggressive defense. We had a lot of unforced turnovers, and we gotta value the ball more.”
The game started with the Bearcats (12-14, 8-5 AE) and the River Hawks (22-7, 9-5 AE) trading baskets and keeping a steady offensive pace. BU put itself on the board first and held control early on in the half. The visitors did not allow UMass Lowell to grab a lead for over six minutes of the opening game time. Although the hosts tied the contest at 11 during the fifth minute, a layup from senior guard Jacob Falko kept Binghamton at the helm.
Eventually, the River Hawks held a 26-25 lead at the eight-minute mark, but staged a 10-0 run that gave them an 11-point lead with nearly five minutes left in the half. Nevertheless, BU was able to cut the deficit to just six by halftime, as it entered the break trailing 40-34.
Coming out of the half, UMass Lowell would get on the board first. However, junior guard Armon Harried responded and got the second half scoring started for Binghamton by making a jump shot. Despite going back-and-forth for the first few minutes of the frame, the River Hawks began to slowly pull away. The hosts held a 12 point lead with 13 minutes left to play as the Bearcats began to attempt a comeback. The visitors staged a 10-4 run, capped off by a senior guard Dan Petcash 3-pointer, and cut their deficit to just six. This was as close as they would get, however, as the hosts controlled the rest of the game. Although BU did see itself within eight points with just under two minutes remaining, UMass Lowell went on a 10-4 run and secured the win at 84-70.
Despite leading early, Binghamton never regained the advantage after the first half. A common theme with the Bearcats, however, was the turnovers and loss of possessions — as they had a season-high 23 turnovers and allowed the River Hawks to score 32 points off these turnovers. BU was outgunned and — despite forcing 12 turnovers — it could only accumulate two points off of those opportunities.
“I think the really big thing for us was the turnovers,” Sanders said. “I liked how we started the game, but we had 23 turnovers and [UMass Lowell] scored points off those turnovers … We gave them too much easy baskets.”
Petcash led the team in scoring, putting up 21 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field. Harried scored 14 points on 100 percent shooting splits. Falko filled up the stat sheet as well, leading the team with six assists and six rebounds, while also scoring 13 points of his own.
“[Petcash] had been playing really well and he got some really good shots off, in the first half especially,” Sanders said. “He had some really nice drives to the basket in the second half as well. We’re gonna take it one game at a time, we gotta be ourselves as much as possible. We need to play the best basketball this time of year and really prepare ourselves for Vermont.”
BU continues conference play when it faces the No. 1 seeded Vermont on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, Vermont.