JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Tommy Dempsey stamped his foot on the thick purple sideline and glanced at the clock.
Time was running out on the Binghamton men’s basketball team, and a turnover with less than 90 seconds left had all but squashed the Bearcats’ chances of overcoming a 10-point deficit against hosting St. Peter’s Tuesday night at the Yanitelli Center.
The Bearcats (1-5), ultimately 70-57 losers, played from behind ever since the Peacocks (2-3) took a 22-21 lead with 3:05 left in the first half, and with 2:49 remaining in the game, sophomore guard Jordan Reed nailed a jumper to cut the gap to 60-55.
St. Peter’s called a timeout. Binghamton failed to execute, while the Peacocks did not. With the Bearcats defense in disarray, senior guard Chris Burke rose from the corner and buried a critical 3-pointer.
“We talked about going zone [out of the timeout],” Dempsey said. “We came out, and we weren’t in zone — well, four guys were, one guy wasn’t… We miscommunicated, but they had to make the shot and that was a big one that late in the game.”
After BU freshman guard Marlon Beck missed an answer-3, redshirt junior guard Desi Washington extended the Peacocks’ lead to 10 with a layup. And then Binghamton’s turnover essentially sealed the deal.
Dempsey said the Bearcats, coming off a disappointing 69-63 home-loss to Radford, felt more pressure to display a solid performance than to add a tick to the win column.
“We made some crucial mistakes tonight, but I thought we fought extremely hard,” he said. “There were a couple of times in the game where I thought it was really going to get away from us, but we were able to fight back.”
One of those times occurred late in the first half, when St. Peter’s redshirt junior Marvin Dominique led his team on a 12-1 run to open a 30-22 lead. Reed capped off first-half scoring, though, with a difficult layup to steal back some of the momentum and keep the margin at six entering the break.
Then, after freshman guard Yosef Yacob scored two of his career-high 17 points on a nifty drive through the lane to trim the Peacocks’ lead to 40-39, St. Peter’s used a 16-7 spurt to gain a 10-point advantage with 6:40 left.
Reed, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Yacob led Binghamton on a 9-4 run to pull within 60-55 with less than three minutes remaining, but turnovers and an inability to hit the big shot precluded the Bearcats from chipping away any deeper.
Dempsey said he still believes in his team’s offensive potential, though the Bearcats have stagnated at critical times — most notably when they scored 16 points over an 18-minute stretch in Saturday’s loss to Radford.
“Just working on our timing and togetherness and sharing the ball and finding guys in the right spots at the right time,” Dempsey said. “It’s just something that’s going to have to be worked out when these guys get more game time under their belt together.”
For St. Peter’s, Dominique played a crucial role. Even against the 2-3 zone, the Fordham transfer dominated to the tune of 21 points and six rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. The Peacocks dominated the paint, 22-2, in the first half, forcing Dempsey to adjust at halftime.
“We tried to focus on getting to the offensive glass a little bit more,” he said. “We didn’t’ have any [offensive rebounds] at halftime. We ended up with five — not that it was great, but I thought it helped us score some more points in the paint.”
But the Peacocks essentially dared the Bearcats to win the game on the perimeter, collapsing on the powerful Reed and the 6-foot-9 freshman forward Nick Madray when they caught the ball inside. The Bearcats, who shot 42.6 percent from the floor, went 6 for 20 from 3-point territory.
“They were collapsing, we had to throw it out and shoot 3s,” Dempsey said. “We shot a decent amount of threes, but it was more a product of how they were playing defensively.”
Neither team shot well from the foul line, but for the second straight game, Binghamton missed several critical free throws. The Bearcats shot 11 of 21 on the night.
Binghamton is set to return to game action on Sunday, when Colgate will visit the Events Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.