For the 12th time in its last 13 games, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team found itself on the losing end of a contest, falling to Stony Brook University 67-42 in the Bearcats’ regular-season finale.
With the loss, Binghamton (7-22, 4-12 America East) slipped into last place in the America East and is scheduled to face eighth-seeded University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the conference tournament’s play-in game on Thursday.
After exceeding expectations last year, the Bearcats seemed poised to compete heading into the season, but after starting conference play with three straight wins, the team earned only one more victory en route to the team’s worst conference mark since making the transition to Division I in 2001.
On Sunday, the Bearcats showed no resemblance to the team that defeated Stony Brook 57-50 earlier this season. The Bearcats shot just 29.5 percent from the floor and scored only 17 points in the second half.
The Seawolves shot better than 52 percent and were lights out in the first half. An early 13-0 run put Binghamton behind early, 25-12, and things didn’t get much better for the Bearcats. Through the first 20 minutes, Stony Brook hit 15 of 25 shots and shot 7-of-10 from behind the arc before heading into the locker room with a 42-25 lead. The second half was similar to the first, with Binghamton not coming closer than 15 points to the Seawolves, and Stony Brook earning the 67-42 win. Macon credited the Seawolves’ hot shooting for putting pressure on Binghamton.
“They started hitting threes, and then we went down and couldn’t score,” said Binghamton head coach Mark Macon. “We got chances to shoot at the basket, but we were missing layups, and they’d come down and they’d score, and it kept putting us behind. They did a really good job of shooting well in the first half.”
Juniors Bryan Dougher and Dallis Joyner led Stony Brook in scoring, shooting a combined 71 percent for 31 total points. Dougher, who shot 0-for-10 from the floor in the teams’ first meeting, scored all his points Sunday from behind the arc, draining five 3-pointers for 15 points.
Senior forward Greer Wright was the only Bearcat to finish in double-digits, scoring 11 points and finishing with four assists.
For the Bearcats, the highlight of the night came from senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi, whose team-high six boards brought his season total to 226, setting a new Binghamton record for rebounds in a season.
“That says something about him,” Macon said of Jabbi. “It says something about where he’s come from, and where he’s going. He’s an extremely hard worker, and he reaped the success because he worked for the success, so I can’t say enough about him. You can tell that he gave you everything when he walks off that floor.”
Senior forward Moussa Camara finished second on the team in scoring, with his nine points all coming from 3-point territory. Jabbi’s eight-point performance ranked third.
On paper, the Seawolves harnessed only seven more boards than the Bearcats, but the ability to create and convert second-chance opportunities allowed Stony Brook to widen their lead and escape with an easy victory.
“We’re not getting second opportunities like other teams are getting second opportunities,” Macon said.
With the Bearcats slated to face UMBC on Thursday night, the team hopes to be at 100 percent by tip-off. Sophomore Taylor Johnston saw seven minutes of playing time on Sunday, a sign of improvement after the forward missed three consecutive games with a concussion.
But Binghamton’s chances of having success in the tournament directly correlate with the performance of Greer Wright, who leads the Bearcats in scoring with 12.6 points per game.
“It’s important for us as a team to play at a high level with him,” Macon said.
Until recently, Wright was recovering from an ankle injury that sidelined him for five games and kept him scoreless for three more.
“His injury is pretty much done with, he just has to go out and play,” Macon continued. “Greer is one of our better players at doing everything for us, so in that respect we really need him out on the floor.”
The Bearcats will look to keep their season alive Thursday in Hartford, with tip-off set for 8:15 p.m. at Chase Arena. As the No. 9 seed, if Binghamton tops No. 8 UMBC the Bearcats would be scheduled to play No. 1 Vermont at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday.