After surrendering a 22-point lead against University of Maine last Saturday, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team found another, but equally painful, way to lose a game.
The Bearcats (6-17, 3-7 America East) fell to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (4-19, 3-7 AE) in Baltimore Thursday evening, dropping a close game in overtime 83-79.
Binghamton had a chance to tie in the final seconds of the overtime period, but sophomore guard Jimmy Gray missed a layup and freshman guard Robert Mansell couldn’t connect on the put-back. Gray immediately fouled, but UMBC senior Laurence Jolicoeur, an 80 percent foul shooter, hit both free throws on the other end, sealing the win for the Retrievers and extending Binghamton’s current losing streak to seven games.
In a wild finish to regulation, Binghamton senior forward Greer Wright stole the ball, taking it to the basket before being fouled on an attempted layup with 7.3 seconds to go. Wright, in his first attempted free throws since a Jan. 2 match with La Salle University, gave the Bearcats a 73-71 lead.
On UMBC’s ensuing possession, Laurence Jolicoeur attempted a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds on the clock, but was fouled by Wright and forced to earn the points from the stripe. After sinking the first, Jolicoeur came up short on the second, but sank the third to send the game into overtime.
“He already understands what happened, and he won’t make that mistake again,” BU interim head coach Mark Macon said of Wright’s last-second foul. “That’s just an instinctive thing, I might’ve done the same thing. It’s an instinctive play, and you want it back but you can’t get it back. He understands it, and he’ll be okay behind it, but it’s just one that they got.”
Wright, whose nagging ankle injury had given him trouble, finished with 14 for the Bearcats, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor and scoring his first points since Jan. 8 against New Hampshire. Looking the healthiest he has this month, Wright was able to contribute with two assists as well, one a particularly pretty dish to Mansell under the basket.
“He’s probably about 85 percent; it’s more day-to-day than anything,” Macon commented on Wright’s injury. “You have to play it by ear.”
After surrendering a 22-point lead to Maine last Saturday, the Bearcats’ current losing streak includes losses of various kinds. With last night’s loss, the Bearcats slipped into a last-place tie with UMBC with only six games remaining. With the remaining schedule including two of the conference’s top-three teams, the Bearcats have a difficult road ahead of them before the America East tournament in March.
Led by sophomore guard Brian Neller’s 21 points, the Retrievers finished with five players in double digits. Laurence Jolicoeur’s eight-point performance included four clutch free throws for UMBC, as well as a highlight-reel shot to open the overtime period.
Senior forward Moussa Camara led the Bearcats with 20 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the floor and 6-of-9 from behind the arc after connecting on his first five 3-point attempts.
“We need five guys to score,” Macon said. “You can’t just have one guy score 20 and nobody else does.”
The Bearcats, who have experienced their share of offensive struggles this season, shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half and only trailed by two heading into the locker room. But as Macon has stressed throughout the season, the ability to close games is still a work in progress.
“We have to be able to close out games,” Macon said. “We have to be able to finish out games. I’ve said it before, we have to be able to close them out. You have to play with your head at the end of the game to get these kinds of wins, but they wanted it a little more than we did today. It hurts, not just me but everybody.”
Senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi, who has stepped up for BU during Greer Wright’s injury, posted the team’s only double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling in 10 rebounds. It was his fifth-straight game with a double-double.
Binghamton beat UMBC earlier this season 83-75, posting a season-high 50-point second half. Gray, who led the Bearcats with 23 points in the schools’ first meeting, scored only nine last night, shooting 3-of-11 from the floor.
The Bearcats will look to snap their seven-game slide against the University of New Hampshire on Saturday evening. With tip-off slated for 7 p.m. at the Events Center, Macon’s message for his team is simple: “Rebound that basketball and be ready to play well.”